Optic Nerve Damage with Facial Fractures
I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento. There are many different injuries that someone could sustain in a car crash and while much of the attention focuses on what is common, there are more unusual injuries that still have the potential to cause significant quality of life issues. One example is the optic nerve damage with facial fractures that can occur during a car accident. This can cause both aesthetic issues as well as functional problems that go along with potential blindness. What exactly is optic nerve damage and how does it develop in a car accident?
An Overview of the Optic Nerve
The optic nerve, also known as the second cranial nerve, plays an important role in the function of the eye. Some of its functions include:
Light: First, the optic nerve helps to control the size of the pupil. In dark areas, the pupil expands to try and bring in more light. In light areas, the pupil constricts to block out some of this excess light.
Images: The optic nerve also relays images from the environment back to the brain for interpretation. The brain uses information from both eyes to generate a complete image.
If the optic nerve is damaged in a traumatic injury, there can be problems with vision. Symptoms that they could notice include:
- Bleeding from the eyes
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Seeing flashes of light, specks, or floaters
- Severe headaches
- Vision loss
There are several different ways that this nerve can be damaged and some of the problems could be permanent.
Mechanism of Damage to Facial Fractures
There are several ways that the optic nerve can be damaged and a recent medical review article took a look at some of the most common ways. A team of doctors reviewed all of the individuals at their hospital who had sustained damage to the optic nerve. Common mechanisms included physical assault, pedestrian accidents, and car crashes. Based on the results of the study, one of the most common ways was in an auto accident. In a car crash, the head is free to move because it is not restrained by a seatbelt. The face has the potential to strike the dashboard or steering wheel, leading to a seriously traumatic event. If a facial fracture is sustained, bone fragments could fly up through the skull and damage one or both of the optic nerves, leading to a serious injury.
Recovery from a Serious Optic Injury
If someone has been diagnosed with an injury to the optic nerve, it will be important to ascertain what kind of visual problems the patient has developed. Vision problems include:
Muscle Damage: Damage to one or more eye muscles could cause one of the eyes to stop moving. This incongruous movement could lead to double vision.
Color Loss: Some individuals might complain of a loss of ability to see certain colors. This comes from damage to the eye’s rods or cones.
Blindness: In serious injuries, someone could lose vision in their eye completely. This comes from a complete transection of the optic nerve.
Pain: The eye is full of nerves and damage to these nerves can lead to long-term pain. This can be debilitating and require frequent medication to keep it controlled.
Blindness is often permanent. If this happens, significant quality of life issues could develop because a loss of vision could make it difficult to drive, work, or even complete activities of daily living. Families who are struggling with optic nerve damage from facial fractures could have questions about what happens next. Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney can help a family review the circumstances of the injury and understand the legal options available to them.
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Experienced Car Accident & Personal Injury Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento. If you have been struggling with your vision after a car accident, please call me at (916) 921-6400 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.
I am honored to be a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
You can review our verdicts and settlements.
Image Attribution: Unsplash.
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