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What Is Post-Trauma Vision Syndrome?

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A young man holding one hand to his eyes due to eye strain and holding his glasses in his other hand.

Living through a traumatic event can dramatically impact various aspects of your life, but one overlooked consequence is the effect on your vision. Post-Trauma Vision Syndrome (PTVS) is a condition that can significantly impact your daily activities and overall recovery process. 

PTVS is a complex visual condition that arises following a traumatic incident, such as a head injury or concussion. It’s characterized by disruptions in your visual system, leading to difficulties beyond simple vision problems. 

PTVS affects how your brain processes visual information, which can complicate recovery and affect your quality of life. Understanding this condition and finding the proper treatment can significantly impact your ability to move forward after an injury. 

What Does It Feel Like to Have PTVS?

Experiencing PTVS can be highly disorienting and frustrating. Individuals with PTVS often report a variety of visual disturbances that can make day-to-day activities challenging. Common symptoms include blurred vision, double vision (diplopia), and difficulty focusing on objects, particularly when shifting gaze from one object to another. 

Some people may also experience increased sensitivity to light, making environments with bright or fluctuating lighting particularly uncomfortable. Additionally, those affected might struggle with spatial orientation, leading to feelings of imbalance or dizziness. 

How PTVS Can Impact Daily Life & Recovery

PTVS can significantly hamper your ability to perform everyday activities, leading to frustration and slowing overall recovery. 

Key areas of life impacted by PTVS include:

  • Work: Difficulty focusing can reduce productivity and efficiency.
  • Social Life: Light sensitivity and other symptoms may limit social interactions.
  • Mental Health: Visual strain after a head injury can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.

Understanding the Causes & Symptoms of PTVS

PTVS usually follows head trauma, including concussions, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and whiplash. Even mild concussions can disrupt visual processing. More severe injuries are often accompanied by pronounced visual challenges. Sudden jolts to the head can also trigger vision issues by affecting the brain and ocular nerves.

Symptoms of PTVS

Although symptoms can vary widely among individuals, they generally include:

  • Double vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye strain & fatigue
  • Balance issues
  • Headaches

Understanding these symptoms is crucial for early identification and management of PTVS.

Infographic showing the symptoms of post trauma vision syndrome.

Diagnosis & Treatment Options for PTVS

Accurate diagnosis of PTVS requires a comprehensive eye exam by a specialist, often involving:

  • Vision tests: Measuring visual acuity, eye coordination, and depth perception
  • Neurological assessments: Evaluating how well your brain processes visual information
  • Patient history: Discussing the traumatic event and its aftermath in detail

Once diagnosed, several treatment options can help manage PTVS, from vision therapy to lifestyle adjustments.

Vision Therapy

Vision therapy can play a pivotal role in managing PTVS. A tailored program, vision therapy involves a series of eye exercises and activities designed to retrain the brain’s visual processing abilities. Key benefits of vision therapy include:

  • Improved Visual Function: Enhanced eye coordination and focus
  • Reduced Symptoms: Alleviation of headaches, eye strain, and balance issues
  • Accelerated Recovery: A structured approach that speeds up the overall healing process

At Avenue Optometry & Vision Therapy, we offer comprehensive, personalized vision therapy programs to help you regain optimal visual function.

Prescription Eyewear

For many individuals, customized prescription eyewear can be crucial to managing PTVS. Depending on the specific issues, glasses or contact lenses with special modifications can be prescribed. These modifications may include tints to reduce light sensitivity or bifocals designed to aid focus. 

Prism Lenses

Prism lenses are specialized eyewear designed to correct diplopia (double vision). These lenses work by bending light before it enters the eye, aligning the 2 images that the brain would otherwise perceive as double. Prism lenses can be incorporated into regular glasses, making them a practical solution for those with persistent double vision.


In conjunction with other treatments, medications can play a vital role in managing the symptoms of PTVS. For example, medications such as analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs can help alleviate headaches and eye pain. Certain pharmaceuticals can assist in reducing discomfort for those experiencing severe light sensitivity.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Adopting certain lifestyle changes can further help manage PTVS symptoms. Taking regular breaks during visually intensive activities, using anti-glare screens on digital devices, and ensuring appropriate lighting while reading or working can all make a difference in navigating PTVS. 

Incorporating relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and yoga may also help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with PTVS.

Tips for Coping with PTVS During Recovery

Coping with PTVS involves a combination of professional treatment and self-care strategies. Here are some tips to help you manage daily challenges:

  • Rest Your Eyes: Take regular breaks from screens and other visually demanding tasks.
  • Adjust Lighting: Use softer lighting to reduce glare and discomfort.
  • Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration can aid in overall brain function and recovery.
  • Use Visual Aids: Tools like magnifiers can help reduce strain during reading or detailed work.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Techniques like meditation can help manage stress and improve mental clarity.
  • Follow Your Treatment Plan: Adhere strictly to the regimen prescribed by your vision therapist.

Dive Into Vision Therapy

PTVS is a challenging condition that can significantly affect your quality of life. However, you can manage your symptoms and restore your visual health with the right diagnosis, treatment, and coping strategies. If you suspect you might be experiencing PTVS, contact a vision therapy provider like Avenue Optometry & Vision Therapy to start your journey to recovery. For more insights and personalized care, don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule a consultation. We’re here to help you every step of the way.

Dr. Shaina Nensi, OD and owner of Avenue Optometry

Written by Dr. Shaina Nensi, OD, FCOVD

Dr. Shaina Nensi, owner of Avenue Optometry & Vision Therapy, received her Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Waterloo. Dr. Nensi went on to complete a residency in Pediatrics and Vision Therapy where she received additional training in the areas of pediatrics, neuro-rehabilitation, vision therapy and eyecare for special-needs populations. Upon completion, she received The Canadian Association of Optometrist’s Award of Merit and the COVD Award for Excellence in Vision Therapy. Dr. Nensi is also a board-certified Fellow in developmental vision and vision therapy by the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (FCOVD).

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