Vision problems following auto injuries
Blurred vision, blind spots, watery eyes, and difficulty focusing may seem like common symptoms when you're at the optometrist's office. But few people expect these kinds of visual disturbances after experiencing a whiplash injury. In fact, these vision problems frequently occur after such injuries. But how, and why, is vision affected by whiplash?
One study examined the cause and type of visual disturbances experienced by 19 whiplash patients. This group of patients was compared to 43 people who did not have whiplash or neck pain. The researchers evaluated participants' ability to adjust their eyes to focus on objects at a range of distances. The whiplash patients had a harder time adjusting to the varying differences than healthy participants.
While at first it seems strange that a neck injury could impact vision, in reality the eyes and neck are connected by nerves running through the spine. A neck injury like whiplash damages the cervical spine which can in turn damage nerves in the sympathetic pathway responsible for assisting the body in eye control. In some cases, this leads to Horner's syndrome, which involves constricted pupils, drooping eyelids, and reduced sweating on the side of the face that is affected.
Along with headaches and neck pain, vision problems have become a well-recognized effect of whiplash injuries. If you experience visual disturbances or neck pain after a vehicle collision, strongly consider having your neck examined by a medical professional.
If you suffered a head injury in an auto collision and are experiencing vision problems and persistent headaches, consider being tested for pseudotumor cerebri.
Brown S. “Effect of whiplash injury on accommodation”. Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology 31 (2003):424-429.