Research Reports - changes in oculomotor function in young adults with mild traumatic brain injury

Giedre Matuseviciene1, Jan Johansson2, Marika Möller1, Alison K. Godbolt1, Tony Pansell2, Catharina Nygren Deboussard1

Objectives To assess (1) whether visual disturbances can be demonstrated with objective measures more often in patients with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) than in orthopaedic controls and non-injured controls, (2) whether such objectively demonstrated disturbances change over time and (3) whether self-reported visual symptoms after mTBI correlate with objectively measurable changes in visuomotor performance.

Design A prospective, controlled, observational study, with assessments planned 7–10 and 75–100 days after injury.

Setting Emergency department of a general hospital in Sweden.

Participants 15 patients with mTBI, 15 patients with minor orthopaedic injury, 15 non-injured controls, aged 18–40 years.

Outcome measures Visual examination, including assessment of visual acuity, accommodation, eye alignment, saccades and stereoacuity. Symptom assessment using Convergence Insufficiency Symptoms Survey (CISS) and Rivermead PostConcussion Symptoms Questionnaire.

Results Assessments were performed 4–13 and 81–322 days after injury (extended time frames for logistical reasons). No statistically significant difference was found between the mTBI and control groups regarding saccade performance and stereoacuity at any time point. The accommodative amplitude was significantly lower in the mTBI group compared with non-injured controls at baseline. 6 out of 13 patients with mTBI had accommodative insufficiency at follow-up. Near point of convergence in the mTBI group was receded at baseline and improved statistically significantly at follow-up. At baseline, patients with mTBI had significantly higher CISS score than orthopaedic and non-injured controls. For patients with mTBI, the CISS score correlated with fusional vergence.

Conclusion There were some transient measurable visual changes regarding convergence in patients with mTBI during the subacute period after the injury. Our findings of persistence of accommodative insufficiency in a considerable proportion of patients with mTBI suggest that this visual function should not be overlooked in clinical assessment.

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