So, here is a new subject that hints at hope for traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients. I have previously discussed the role of vision therapy in helping head injury patients, especially those who are having difficulty reading.
Vision therapy is a set of vision exercises and training performed by optometrists with unique equipment in their offices.
Vision therapy certainly has a role in rehabilitation but has numerous obstacles. Number one- patients must make regular appointments for a doctor’s office visit often located some distance from home. Two, only a few optometrist’s perform vision therapy. And third, the cost of therapy is usually not covered by medical insurance.
The future may lie in VIRTUAL REALITY– futuristic-looking goggles and head sets that allow individuals to play 3-D computer games in an immersive environment. The technology keeps improving and costs are coming down.
Forward-looking technology companies are also developing programs for traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients. Only early versions are currently available but the possibility of at-home rehabilitation will soon become a medical reality. All of medicine is moving in this direction.
Reading, depth perception, contrast sensitivity, and peripheral vision disorders can all be explored in virtual reality. The brain and the eye will truly come together in a revolution of new products to aid patients with ocular disease. There are already devices to help people who are blind, but the cost of such devices is considerable. The cost of virtual reality computer goggles and headsets will be coming down in price to sell to the general public- the same techniques that are being explored to develop entertainment are being developed by health companies to treat patients.
In the next year or two, the market will present these devices and an at-home device and therapy to treat TBI victims will be available. In my blog I have explained the many ways head injury can effect eyesight, but there are almost no cures. Cures may be a long way off, but programs to help people read again, reduce double vision, and regain their ability to judge depth are already in the pipeline. I’m not currently an investor in any device, and I will not discuss specific companies, but the research and data is on the internet.
Also, there are already programs you can get on a regular computer screen for vision training and I will discuss these in future blogs. Again, ophthalmologists interested in TBI and related visual disorders can be at a frontier of a whole new branch of ophthalmology. I examine and evaluate TBI patients in my practice everyday and I will keep those who read my blog posted on new information.
Steven H. Rauchman, M.D. is an eye physician and surgeon who has been in private practice for 30 years. He has served as an Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) medical/legal expert for the last 6 years specializing in the area of personal injury and related traumatic brain injuries.