Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Cause Vision Problems for Veterans

 Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Cause Vision Problems for Veterans

As the wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere rage on, scientists and medical providers have plenty of test subjects for Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder study.

 Many veterans of the United States armed forces with traumatic brain injury or/or post-traumatic stress disorder are also likely to have undiagnosed, chronic vision problems.  These findings were presented in two studies.  

The first at the 116th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, jointly conducted this year with the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology.

  • Vision Affected by Traumatic Brain Injury

Researchers found that vision problems in veterans with mild traumatic brain injury are much more common and persistent than previously recognized.  67 percent of the 31 patients studied reported chronic vision disorders. Though none of the affected veterans suffered direct eye wounds, their vision continued to be impaired more than a year after they endured the injuries that caused their traumatic brain injury.

Blast-related traumatic brain injury is the most frequent injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. From 2000–2012, the Department of Defense reported 194,561 cases of mild traumatic brain injury, or about 76% of all traumatic brain injuries.

  • Vision Affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

A second study of war veterans, conducted at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami, found that veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression are much more likely to develop dry eye syndrome than veterans who do not have these psychological diagnoses.  Dry eye syndrome is when the eye is unable to maintain a healthy layer of tears to coat it. 

Generally, in U.S. population, the risk of dry eye syndrome increases with age, affecting about 3.2 million women age 50 and older and 1.68 million men age 50 and older.  The average age of the veterans with dry eye syndrome in this Veterans Affairs Medical Center study is younger than is typical for dry eye patients in the civilian population.

It is still unclear whether the dry eye syndrome is directly caused by the Post traumatic stress disorder, depression associated with it, or the medication used to treat it.

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