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Ocular Trauma: Vision Loss in Vets with Traumatic Brain Injury

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Screening for Vision Loss

A simple eye chart test cannot always diagnose ocular trauma. Veterans may still be able to see well, although they have other visual symptoms. More thorough vision screenings are needed for veterans with traumatic brain injury. All soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who have had traumatic brain injury within two years now have screenings for vision loss. The Center's staff found that 64% of these soldiers have vision problems.

Other veteran rehabilitation centers are also screening for low vision in soldiers who have had a traumatic brain injury. (Low vision is sight impairment that eyeglasses, contact lenses, surgery, or medicine can't fix.) Tests revealed that these soldiers had mild to severe vision problems. And 2% of them were legally blind.

Expanding Vision Services for Veterans

More than one million U.S. veterans -- of all ages and from all wars -- are legally blind or have low vision. The Department of Veterans Affairs has been expanding services for these veterans.

Eye care specialists at intermediate low vision clinics help veterans use the vision they have. Therapy may include positioning devices and special lighting. The aim is to aid veterans in reading, writing, finding signs, cooking, and managing medicines. Advanced low vision clinics help veterans move around and find their way independently. Specialists also help these veterans use their hearing and other senses more effectively, which can be very helpful when traveling.

Getting Help for Vision Loss and Ocular Trauma

Contact a Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic if you are a veteran who has been in a blast and you have any symptoms of vision loss. There are inpatient programs for serious and complex cases at polytrauma rehabilitation centers. Outpatient rehab at polytrauma network sites may help if your case is less severe. Know that you are not alone, and help is available.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on October 13, 2013
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