Photosensitivity Following a Brain Injury

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December 11, 2019
Edward Smith

Photosensitivity is a Common Problem After a Brain Injury

Photosensitivity is one of the most common symptoms that people might develop following a traumatic brain injury. This complication has been noted with numerous types of neurological damage ranging from a concussion to a cerebral contusion and even a brain bleed.

Photosensitivity, also known as photophobia, is an extreme sensitivity to light. Those who develop this complication could shelter themselves in a dark room with the lights off, and window blinds closed, waiting for the symptom to pass. This complication could also be a sign of a severe head injury and can severely impact someone’s overall quality of life.

The Timing of the Symptoms

A research paper, published in The Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, explored the development of symptoms following mild traumatic brain injuries. Even though these head impacts are mild, they can still lead to serious complications that can become chronic in nature. The researchers followed a group of patients who had been diagnosed with a TBI. They found that close to 90 percent of these individuals went on to develop recurrent headaches that were followed closely by photosensitivity. About a third of these individuals developed chronic, long-term problems as a result of these complications.

Exploring the Mechanism of Photosensitivity

Prior research papers exploring similar problems found that the mechanism of chronic headaches and photosensitivity is not yet fully understood. However, the professionals who authored this research paper provided a few additional findings. First, individuals who have a history of migraine headaches are more likely to develop photosensitivity following the diagnosis of a brain injury. Furthermore, those who have a history of migraines might develop worsening headache symptoms in the future.

The medical team also noted that inflammation appears to play some role in the development of photosensitivity. The occipital lobe of the brain is responsible for visual processing. Inflammation in this lobe of the brain may lead to the development of photophobia.

The researchers also found that MRI scans play a critical role following a TBI. Those who have been diagnosed with even a mild head injury may show signs of white matter damage. Those who have more extensive white matter damage, specifically in the trigeminal nucleus, thalamus, and cortex, are more likely to develop photophobia and chronic headaches.

Finally, the scientists noted that glutamate toxicity may play a significant role in the development of these complications. When brain cells called astrocytes are damaged, they are known to release glutamate into the central nervous system. An overload of glutamate may harm neurons and microglia, leading to severe complications.

Quality of Life Issues

The authors of this paper found that multiple factors contribute to the development of photosensitivity following a traumatic brain injury. This complication is essential because of the impacts it can have on someone’s daily routine.

According to past research, about a quarter of people who develop photosensitivity say it harms their overall quality of life. Individuals who develop this complication say that it impacts their ability to go shopping, spend time outside, attend school, go to sporting events, or maintain gainful employment. Some people even retreat into total darkness. This can have a profound impact on someone’s relationship with family members and friends.

Fortunately, there is help available. Those who have been diagnosed with a TBI need to know that they are not alone. There are friends, family members, and trained professionals who can provide support and hope to those in need.

Watch YouTube Video: Dr. Bradley Katz on Light Sensitivity, Migraine, Photophobia, and Treatment. In the following video, Dr. Katz discusses the causes of photosensitivity, its causes, symptoms, and treatments.

Stockton Brain Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Stockton Brain Injury Lawyer. Photosensitivity is a common issue following a head injury. If you or someone you know has suffered brain injury complications due to the negligence of another person, please call me today by dialing (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.

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