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Eye Health: Optometrists already ahead of game when it comes to sports concussions

Half of the brain is taken up with vision so concussions during football games can seriously affect players' vision. (Photo from UK Football/Facebook)

Half of the brain is taken up with vision so concussions during football games can seriously affect players’ vision. (Photo from UK Football/Facebook)

By Dr. Dawn Stratton
KyForward columnist
It’s an exciting football season with University of Kentucky being much improved over previous years. This enhanced interest in football is a great reminder that while it’s a favorite sport for many, football is also one where injury is common.
Doctors with the American Optometric Association’s Sports Vision Section hope increased attention to concussions will help athletes. Dr. Derek Cunningham, the past chair of the section, tries to impart to his patients the knowledge he’s gained both as a doctor and as a player. “Back when I played, if you were seeing foggy and your head hurt, it was called ‘getting your bell rung.’ And as soon as you could run, you were back in the game,” Cunningham said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that football accounts for the highest rate of traumatic brain injuries in high school sports. While practitioners look for better ways to help diagnose and rehabilitate concussion patients, optometry is already providing answers.
Because more than 50 percent of the brain is devoted to vision, optometrists are a crucial part of a multidisciplinary approach to care. Along with tests to determine the likelihood of concussion following injury, optometrists are also crucial in helping rehabilitate patients’ vision.
TBI patients can experience a wide range of symptoms, both short- and long-term. Some of the impairments include: blurred vision, eye strain, reading issues, peripheral vision restrictions, color deficits, increased sensitivity to light, loss of balance, dizziness, headaches, lessened coordination, confusion, memory issues and trouble concentrating.
With so many Cincinnati Reds fans in our area, I thought you’d also be interested in this interview with the retired catcher for the team, Johnny Bench. His optometrist at the University of Cincinnati is helping with diagnosis of concussions as a result of sports injuries.
Regardless of the sport, we always encourage protective eyewear. Regular eyeglasses and sunglasses are not strong enough to withstand flying objects and hard blows. Sports frames are constructed of highly impact-resistant plastic and most come with rubber padding to cushion the frame where it comes in contact with the face and nose area. Choose protective eyewear with wrap-around frames to protect the eyes from all sides.



Dr. Dawn Stratton, O.D., is the founder of Stratton Eyes. She is a graduate of Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago and earned her Doctor of Optometry in 1994. Based in Lexington, Dr. Stratton is a member of American Optometric Association, the Kentucky Optometric Association, the National Association of Professional Women and the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists. She also provides eye exams for patients at the Hope Center, Room at the Inn and The Nest. Visit Stratton-Eyes.com for more information or call 859-245-2020 or email office@strattoneyes.com. You can also find the office on Facebook and on Twitter @StrattonEyes.

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