For many victims, one of the last things they were able to see fully or clearly was the accident that resulted in their life-changing injuries. Of all the traumatic effects of a personal injury, the loss of vision can be the most devastating.
At Weinstein Legal, we understand that vision changes or loss of eyesight following an injury is an unforeseen and unimaginable consequence of a personal injury. If you or someone you love has lost their vision following an accident, contact the trusted personal injury attorneys at Weinstein Legal today.
Types of Vision Loss Injuries
After an accident, vision loss can be caused by multiple factors, including eye and head injuries sustained during the force of impact. Vision loss after an accident can actually result in a variety of vision changes. Vision loss does not necessary imply complete blindness. It more often implies two major types of visual problems: visual acuity loss and visual field loss.
Visual Acuity Loss
Visual acuity loss can be compared to a person wearing prescription glasses taking them off. The result is loss of acuity, or clarity. Following a brain injury, visual changes can mimic this effect, causing small to significant visual acuity loss.
Visual acuity loss is caused by damage to the eye itself, to the nerves that carry signals from the retina to the brain, or to the occipital cortex. In certain cases, this loss can be treated with glasses, magnifiers, or electronic reading aids.
Visual Field Loss
Your visual field is the entire area you're able to see when your eyes are fixed in one position. Visual field loss is characterized by which area is lost from view.
- Hemianopsia: The loss of one half of the visual field in each eye, either horizontal or vertical. This loss can make it appear as if people have one half of a face, or a paragraph you're reading cuts off half-way.
- Quadranopsia: The loss of either the lower or upper quarter of the visual field.
- Homonymous Hemianopsia: The same quarter or half of visual field is lost in both eyes.
- Bitemporal Hemianopsia: The outer or inner half of both the left and right visual field is missing.
Likewise, a victim of visual changes can lose sight around the edges of the eyes, giving vision a fish-eye effect. However, the most common types of visual field losses are hemianopsia and quadranopsia.
Loss of Vision After Eye Injury
Damage to any component of the eye, optic nerve, or retina can potentially lead to loss of vision. Injuries to the eye can range from punctures to chemical exposure or burns, all having a variety of effects on the eye itself.
- Corneal Abrasions: The cornea is a transparent layer of skin which covers the eye. In an accident, the cornea can become scratched by a protruding object.
- Iris Injuries: The iris,or colored portion of the eye, controls the amount of light that enters the eye. Inflammation caused by blunt force can cause inflammation of the iris, inhibiting vision.
- Foreign Objects & Lacerations: Sharp objects or fragments such as metal, wood, or plastic can cut into the eye or lodge into it, limiting vision.
- Ultraviolet Keratitis: Though less common in personal injury, ultraviolet keratitis results when a cornea burn is induced by light, such as through welding, tanning, or the sun itself.
- Chemical Exposure or Burns: When chemical liquids or acids splash into the eye, the resulting reaction can potentially cause blindness.
However, vision loss injuries are not always contained to the eye itself. On many occasions, vision loss is caused by trauma to the skull.
Head Injuries and Loss of Vision
Unfortunately, eye and vision problems are fairly common after a brain injury. In fact, 20 to 40 percent of people with a brain injury experience vision-related disorders. In closed head injuries - damage that is internally contained and not evident in outward contusions - traumatic loss of vision is possible without evidence of injury to the eye or its nerve.
Serious vision problems can result from even mild head injuries, such as whiplash from a minor rear-end collision or a fall.
- Vitreous Hemorrhage: Each of your eyes contains a transparent, jellylike substance called vitreous humor. In healthy eyes, light enters the pupil and passes through the vitreous humor before reaching the retina. Head injuries can cause the blood vessels of the eye to bleed into the vitreous, creating a loss of vision.
- Retinal Detachment: The retina is a thin layer of tissue which lines the back of each eyeball. It assists in transmitting the images entering the eye into signals which can be processed by the brain. Head injuries can cause bleeding into the retina which causes the layer of tissue to detach, a condition which can cause permanent blindness. Surgical intervention may be able to reattach the retina, but it must be immediate.
- Optic Nerve Damage: Head injuries may cause increased pressure within the skull, compressing the optic nerves. Optic nerves carry messages from the eyes to the brain, and when they're compressed and blood circulation is cut off, the damage can be severe. The result can lead to complete blindness.
- Ischemic Stroke: When a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. Brain cells affected by a stroke will also have an impact on the abilities controlled by that area of the brain, including vision. If the occipital cortex, the visual processing center of the brain, is damaged, vision in each eye can be affected.
Even mild head injuries can affect vision and cause visual dysfunction, while more severe trauma can cause permanent blindness, double vision, or difficulty focusing.
Types of Head Injuries
Head injuries take on many different forms, especially depending on the circumstances in which they were sustained. Head injuries typically occur as a blunt force, causing the brain to move back and forth rapidly in the skull. This movement damages brain tissue, resulting in chemical alterations inside of the brain; all brain cells to firing at once, as in a seizure; or damaging brain cells in what many refer to as "bruising of the brain."
Head injuries are known medically as Acquired Brain Injuries or, more commonly, Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). The impact of a TBI can produce physical, cognitive, and sensory impairment.
- Cerebral Palsy
- Mild Closed Head Injury
- Mild Acquired Brain Injury
- Cervical Trauma Syndrome
- Cerebral Vascular Accident
- Hemianopsia or Hemianopia
- Post-Traumatic Vision Syndrome
- Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS)
Vision Loss After a Stroke
Of the many injuries the brain could sustain, a stroke can cause detrimental effects that radiate throughout the entire body. A stroke is an example of a delayed accident injury, which likely will not occur at the scene of the accident but can occur up to three months after the initial impact.
When there is a traumatic brain injury involved, such as a concussion or skull fracture, your chance of suffering from a stroke can increase tenfold. It is possible for trauma to the head to damage the blood vessels in the brain on impact, disturbing the blood supply to the brain. This can result in a blood clot or other blockage of blood supply to areas of the brain, causing a stroke.
Of the many effects of stroke, impaired vision after stroke is one of the most common side effects. In fact, about one-third of stroke survivors experience vision loss, and most do not fully recover their vision. If you suffered an accident that was of limited- to no-fault of your own, and ultimately suffered a stroke that caused vision changes or loss, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your pain and suffering, medical bills, and other damages could all be compensable by law.
Sudden Vision Loss Symptoms
Following a traumatic head injury, a variety of cognitive, physical, or sensory impairments may result. Specifically, a victim may experience several vision changes or issues that can be a red flag of injury.
- Aching eyes
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Glare sensitivity
- Sensitivity to light
- Tracking difficulty
- Memory recall issues
- Inability to focus eyes
- Concentration difficulty
- Reduction of visual field
- Comprehension difficulty
- Reading difficulties, e.g. words appear to move
- Inability to align both eyes on the same target
Compensation for Vision Loss Claims
Loss of vision - temporary or permanent, mild or severe - can drastically impact a victim's life. From medical bills and lost wages to the cost of future treatment, damages continue to multiply. Not to mention, the devastation of vision loss can cause extensive pain and suffering.
In fact, the CDC has estimated that people with vision loss are more likely to report both depression and premature death. Additionally, their quality of life is substantially impaired due to their possible inability to read, drive, and see the faces of their loved ones clearly, if at all.
- Lost wages
- Medical fees
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Permanent loss of income
- Ongoing or future medical care
If your sight was robbed from you by another's negligence, contact Weinstein Legal today. Our dedicated attorneys are available 24/7 to answer your every question and get you started on a path to justice.