Can a Car Accident Cause Vision Problems?

Clayton T. Hasbrook

Written by Clayton T. Hasbrook. Last modified on February 19, 2024

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It goes without saying that car accidents are capable of causing debilitating injuries.  Human bodies 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 at 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 SmellHow 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. The human brain is a highly complex organ, and no two TBI cases are identical.  There may be significant 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 common among many TBI victims. Vision is one of the senses that TBI can impact.  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 is a condition where the eyes cannot align properly.
  • Decreased visual acuity (your vision becomes less sharp).
  • Double vision (diplopia) or blurred vision.
  • Exotropia is 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 with your ability to see and 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 cochlear fractures can cause. 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.

Are Car Accidents More Likely to Occur at Certain Times of Day When Vision Problems Increase?

Car accidents are more likely to occur at certain times of day when vision problems are more prevalent. It is well-known that low-light conditions at dusk and dawn, commonly referred to as the twilight period, pose challenges to drivers due to reduced visibility. Additionally, drivers experiencing eye fatigue or sun glare during specific times of the day could have impaired vision, leading to an increased risk of accidents. Therefore, understanding the correlation between time of day and vision problems is crucial in promoting road safety.

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 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.  A whiplash is a 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 traveled when the accident occurred, the greater the risk of a severe whiplash injury.  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 completely silent room. 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

FAQsbroken eyeglasses

Can a Car Accident Cause Vision Problems?

Yes, car accidents can lead to a range of vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision, eye pain, light sensitivity, and loss of peripheral vision. These issues can arise from head and neck injuries or direct trauma to the eyes.

What Are Common Vision Problems After a Car Accident?

Common vision problems post-accident include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Eye pain
  • Light sensitivity
  • Loss of peripheral vision

These can be due to nerve damage, muscle injuries, or direct eye trauma.

How Can Traumatic Brain Injuries Affect Vision?

TBIs can damage the cranial nerves responsible for eye function, leading to:

  • Binocular dysfunction
  • Decreased visual acuity
  • Double vision
  • Exotropia
  • Narrowed vision range

Can Whiplash Cause Vision Problems?

Yes, whiplash can lead to vision problems like blurred and double vision. These are caused by cervical sprains or strains affecting the neck muscles and ligaments.

Can Car Accidents Cause Permanent Vision Damage?

Car accidents can result in permanent vision damage, particularly if the injury is severe or not promptly addressed. Immediate medical attention is crucial to reduce the risk of lasting damage.

How Long After a Car Accident Can Vision Problems Appear?

Vision problems may manifest immediately or develop gradually after a car accident. It’s important to closely monitor your health following an accident and seek medical attention for any changes in vision.

Can Eye Trauma from a Car Accident Be Treated?

Many forms of eye trauma from car accidents are treatable, depending on the injury’s severity. Treatments may include medication, surgery, or vision therapy.

What Should I Do If I Experience Vision Problems After a Car Accident?

Seek medical attention if you encounter vision problems post-accident. A healthcare provider can diagnose and suggest treatment. Also, consider consulting a legal professional to discuss compensation possibilities.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Clayton T. Hasbrook who has years of legal experience as a personal injury lawyer. Our last modified date shows when this page was last reviewed.