Concussions affect vision and it could be lifelong.
According to a recent study, it does appear that those kids who have suffered a concussion playing sports or just while playing, suffer from poor visual acuity and slower central visuo-motor reaction time. Athletes who have a history of concussion experience more visual symptoms than athletes who have not had a concussion. Some athletes will have up to 15 concussions in their lifetime!
319 varsity athletes who played baseball, soccer, hockey, and football and skated and swam were studied; 31% were female and all were between 17 and 29 years old. The athletes were asked about vision symptoms every day and while playing sports. They inquired about blurry vision, light sensitivity, stereopsis, and a history of concussion. 27% had a history of at least one concussion, which puts them at higher risk for the next one. The athletes with a history of concussion appeared to have more symptoms every day. These athletes had worse visual acuity by about 3 letters, and those who had symptoms while playing sports had a slower visual reaction time, potentially putting them at risk for more injury.
It is very important for a child or anyone who has suffered a concussion to be seen by a Doctor of Optometry. Why? So that the doctor can direct them on how to recover and not further affect their vision. Limiting blue light exposure from digital devices is important if there is light sensitivity. Exercises and therapy may be necessary when there is slower visual reaction time.
Often, when kids suffer a concussion, their vision is not considered to be at risk or it is overlooked. As we know in our own family, our daughter who played college hockey and suffered several concussions, her vision was and is severely affected. A friend who played professional hockey has debilitating visual problems from multiple concussion since he was in high school.
We urge you as vision professionals and as parents, that if your child suffers a concussion, to visit an eyecare professional asap! Hopefully your child will have had their eyes examined before this happens so that the doctor has a baseline history to work from.