Purpose: To assess static and dynamic parameters of accommodation in a group of patients with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) that reported symptoms associated with near work.
Methods: A range of laboratory and clinical measurements of accommodative function were assessed in 12 patients with mTBI, as well as in 10 visually-normal control subjects. Static parameters included push-up and minus-lens accommodative amplitude, positive and negative relative accommodation (PRA/NRA), horizontal and vertical near heterophoria, accommodative convergence-to-accommodation (AC/A) ratio, accommodative stimulus/response function (AS/R), and tonic accommodation. Dynamic parameters included time constant, peak velocity, gain, steady-state response level, steady-state response variability, and accommodative flipper facility rate, including changes in flipper rate after a three-minute fatigue session.
Results: All individuals with mTBI manifested a multitude of abnormal accommodative response characteristics. With respect to dynamic parameters, abnormal responses in those with mTBI were found for time constant, peak velocity, accommodative flipper facility fatigue, and steady-state response variability. With respect to static parameters, abnormal values in those with mTBI were found for accommodative amplitude, AC/A ratio, PRA/NRA, and horizontal near heterophoria.
Conclusions: The results of the present study provide further evidence that there is a substantial impact of mTBI on accommodative function. With the global nature of the brain insult, it may be presumed that accommodation would be affected by disturbances in various cortical, cerebellar, and/or brainstem areas and along related axonal pathways. Specifically, the reduced peak velocity and related increased time constant found in the mTBI group could be due to damage of neurons carrying accommodative velocity information (i.e., burst cells). This could result in a decrease in either their firing rate or the number of activated cells. The resultant symptoms at near, such as transient blur, can have a negative impact on the overall quality of life and functional capabilities.