Is your vision problem a sign of a serious car accident injury?
Vision problems are not uncommon after car accidents. A car crash can cause direct trauma to the eye; for example, the eye may be cut by flying glass or injured by an airbag. However, many vision problems that occur after car accidents are actually caused by injury to the brain. Any brain injury, even a relatively mild concussion, can cause vision problems, including trouble focusing, double vision, sensitivity to light or trouble reading.
Types of eye injuries
There are several types of damage to the eye that can result from an injury to the head during a car wreck. These include:
The eyelid can be injured by flying glass and debris. Serious cuts should be treated by an ophthalmologist to ensure there is no underlying damage to the eye itself.
Black eyes can be caused by flying objects within the car and by deploying airbags. The force of the injury can cause bleeding under the skin, which in turn causes the tissue around the eye to become discolored. While a black eye itself is a relatively minor injury, it may be a sign of a more serious facial or head injury.
Chemical burns occur when a harmful chemical or chemical vapor comes into contact with the eye. In a car accident, this can occur due to older airbags and leaking fluids.
An orbital fracture is a break in the bones that make up the eye socket. It takes quite a lot of force to break the bones near the eye, so orbital fractures often involve severe injury to the eye and/or damage to the brain. These injuries may cause temporary or permanent vision loss.
A hyphema occurs when blood enters the anterior chamber of the eye. When this happens, blood becomes visible on the eyeball. A hyphema is often a sign of a serious eye injury and should be considered a medical emergency.
The retina is a light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the inside of the back of the eye. The retina takes the image that you see and turns it into signals that are transmitted to the brain through the optic nerve. A blow to the head can damage the retina (traumatic maculopathy) and even cause it to detach. Symptoms of retinal detachment include brief flashes of light, an increase in floaters, and a feeling of heaviness in the eye. As the retina continues to detach, there may appear to be a shadow or veil on your vision and straight lines may appear to curve.
The vitreous humor is the gel that fills the space between the retina and the lens of the eye. A vitreous hemorrhage occurs when a head injury causes blood vessels to bleed into the vitreous humor. This can cause vision problems, floaters and flashes of light. A vitreous hemorrhage can be an early sign of retinal detachment.
Optic nerve damage (traumatic optic neuropathy)
The optic nerve carries signals from the retina to the vision portion of the brain. When a brain injury causes bleeding, it increases pressure within the skull. This can put pressure on the optic nerves and even cut off blood circulation, causing severe damage or blindness.
The takeaway: get medical attention right away
Vision problems are a case study in why it’s so important to see a doctor and mention all of your symptoms to that doctor as soon as possible after a car accident. Don’t say “it’s just a black eye;” get checked out for signs of a brain injury or more significant damage to the eye. You may need to see a specialist, such as a neurologist or neuro-ophthalmologist, to make sure that your eyes and brain are still working together and to screen for serious vision problems.
Eye injuries sustained in car accidents can be incredibly costly, especially if your vision is permanently damaged. You need an attorney who has the experience to understand the full, long-term cost of your injury and stand up to the insurance company on your behalf. David J. Glatthorn, P.A. would be honored to meet with you for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options. Contact us today.