Can a Car Accident Cause Vision Problems?
Fact checked by Clayton Hasbrook | Updated on April 4, 2016
It goes without saying that car accidents are capable of causing debilitating injuries. Human bodies simply aren’t designed to withstand the tremendous forces exerted by collisions, particularly at high speeds. Bones fracture into pieces, muscle fibers tear apart, and nerves are compressed or severed completely. Yet physical trauma isn’t the only damage that can result from a serious crash. If the victim sustains a blow to the head or neck, senses like vision and hearing can also be affected. If you recently suffered a neck or head injury in an automotive accident, you should contact a car crash lawyer of Hasbrook & Hasbrook for assistance. You may have a right to compensation for your injuries.
How a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Affects Your Sense of Sight, Hearing, and Smell
Car accidents are among the leading causes of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States. According to the CDC data, motor vehicle traffic caused about 14.3% of all traumatic brain injuries from 2006 to 2010, surpassed only by object strikes (15.5%) and accidental falls (40.5%). TBI can be categorized as “mild,” “moderate,” or “severe,” but even a mild TBI can impair the victim’s mental abilities, physical abilities, and overall health.
Obviously, the human brain is an extremely complex organ, and no two TBI cases are identical. There may be great variation in symptoms experienced from patient to patient, depending on which part of the brain is injured and to what extent. That being said, sensory problems are a common outcome among many TBI victims.
Vision is one of the senses which can be impacted by TBI. Vision problems can occur if the injury damages cranial nerves that control eye function, such as the optic nerve, oculomotor nerve, trochlear nerve, or abducens nerve. Resulting vision problems can include:
- Binocular dysfunction (BVD) or strabismus, a condition where the eyes cannot align properly.
- Decreased visual acuity (your vision becomes less sharp).
- Double vision (diplopia) or blurred vision.
- Exotropia, a type of strabismus where both eyes drift toward the outer corners. Exotropia can be constant or have passing flare-ups.
- Narrowed range of vision.
A brain injury can interfere not only with your ability to see, but also to store visual memories after viewing an object. This condition can be caused by injury to the right temporal lobe, located toward the side and bottom of the brain.
TBI can also affect other senses. A severe brain injury may result in:
- Hearing loss (partial or complete deafness), which can be caused by cochlear fractures. The cochlea, a fluid-filled, snail-shaped organ deep inside the ear, is responsible for processing sound. Deafness caused by cochlear damage can sometimes be treated with cochlear implants.
- Changes to your sense of smell, and in turn, your sense of taste. This condition is called anosmia. Anosmia can occur if the olfactory nerve sustains a shearing injury (tissue sliding over other tissue), or if the frontotemporal region of the brain is injured.
Blurred Vision or Ringing Ears After a Car Crash? You May Be Suffering from Whiplash
Traumatic brain injuries are not the only types of injuries which are capable of causing short- or long-term sensory disturbances. Believe it or not, hearing and vision problems can also be caused by a seemingly unrelated whiplash neck injury. Whiplash is a form of soft tissue injury where the neck muscles and ligaments are quickly pushed beyond their range of motion, most often due to a rear-end collision.
The faster the vehicles were traveling when the accident occurred, the greater the risk of a severe whiplash injury occurring. However, even minor collisions can result in whiplash, which has been observed in crashes at speeds as low as about 15 miles per hour.
Like TBI, whiplash can cause disturbances to your normal sense of vision and/or hearing. Neck injuries can lead to medical problems like:
- Diplopia – A cervical sprain (stretched or torn neck ligament) or cervical strain (pulled or torn neck muscle) can cause blurred vision, diplopia, and difficulty reading or following objects with your eyes.
- Tinnitus – A person with tinnitus hears high-pitched ringing in their ears, even in a room that is completely silent. While less common, tinnitus can also sound like buzzing, crackling, or hissing.
In addition to impairing your senses, whiplash injuries can also have other medical consequences, including:
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Muscle spasms
- Neck pain, which may radiate up to your skull or down your back
- Nerve damage, which can cause numbness, pain, or tingling/burning sensations
- Stiffness in your shoulder joints
- Upper back and shoulder pain
Contact Hasbrook & Hasbrook Today
If you suffered a whiplash injury or TBI after getting into a car accident in Oklahoma, you could be entitled to compensation. You can see some real-life examples in our articles on compensation for neck injuries and compensation for traumatic brain injuries. Call our brain injury lawyers of Hasbrook & Hasbrook today at (405) 235-1551 to set up a free and confidential legal consultation.