After years of suffering the effects of a concussion—one patient's optometrist gives her life back

February 27, 2023
After being rear-ended, Catherine spent the next two years trying to get relief from her traumatic brain injury symptoms. She was discharged from the hospital without answers and bounced around to various specialists to no avail—until she saw a doctor of optometry.
Wooden blocks displaythe work "concussion"

Dr. Tracey Glendenning—Seeing Through Rose-Colored Glasses

A few years ago, Catherine was rear-ended, and her head hit the steering wheel, causing a traumatic brain injury (TBI)—it took a few weeks for doctors even to realize she had a brain injury.

A TBI is an injury that affects how the brain works caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating injury. While a concussion is considered a mild TBI, undiagnosed and untreated concussions can lead to an increased risk of brain damage and injuries. Participation in sports, car accidents, falls and physical activities can increase the likelihood of head injuries and concussions.

For the next two years, Catherine endured: light and sound sensitivity, balance issues, dizziness, nausea, slurred speech and difficulty finding words. She also developed a constant “Parkinson’s-like head tremor” that doctors could not explain. She saw countless doctors, one of whom told her the head tremor was caused by anxiety.

Her second physical therapist referred her to Tracey Glendenning, O.D., of MyEyeDr., who was more familiar with TBIs and mobility issues.

“Whenever I have a patient like this, the first thing I ask is, ‘What are your goals?’” Dr. Glendenning explains. “For Catherine, she wanted to be able to read, write, use a computer again and decrease light sensitivity.”

To help achieve this, Dr. Glendenning tried a lens filter in Catherine’s glasses that helped but was not making as much of an impact as they wanted. So, when an opportunity arose to participate in a lab on TBIs, Dr. Glendenning jumped at it. Here, she learned about a specific type of filter that she had never heard of before.

A week later, Catherine decided to try sample glasses – her tremor slowed down immediately. “As soon as I put the glasses on, I felt my brain calm down and I felt like I could see for the first time.”

For Catherine, these glasses were life-changing. For the first time in two years, she could walk to the grocery store, work out and drive again. She also credits them for eating healthier—with her tremor and vision issues; she had trouble cutting up things like fruits, vegetables and meat.

"I always want to see patients two-three months after getting new glasses. When Catherine walked into my office, I almost didn’t recognize her. She seemed like an entirely new person." -Dr. Glendenning

Ninety percent of patients with TBI injuries will suffer visual symptoms, but they are not always noticeable. Regular, comprehensive eye exams can detect visual signs of undiagnosed concussions. Patients who experience a blow or jolt to the head should see a doctor of optometry.

Tracey Glendenning, O.D.Tracey Glendenning, O.D., FCOVD

Tracey Glendenning, O.D., FCOVD has more than 30 years of experience in optometry. She examines, diagnoses, treats and manages diseases, injuries and disorders of the eye and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye.

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