The Relationship between Severe Visual Acuity Loss, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Ocular Injuries in American Service Members from 2001 to 2015

Gerald Flanagan, Tom Velez, Weidong Gu, Eric Singman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction Although traumatic brain injury (TBI) is known to cause many visual problems, the correlation between the extent of severe visual acuity loss (SVAL) and severity of TBI has not been widely explored. In this retrospective analysis, combined information from Department of Defense (DoD)/Veterans Affairs ocular injury and TBI repositories were used to evaluate the relationship between chronic SVAL, TBI, ocular injuries, and associated ocular sequelae for U.S. service members serving between 2001 and 2015. Materials and Methods The Defense and Veterans Eye Injury and Vision Registry (DVEIVR) is an initiative led by the DoD and Veterans Affairs that consists of clinical and related data for service members serving in theater since 2001. The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is the DoD’s office for tracking TBI data in the military and maintains data on active-duty service members with a TBI diagnosis since 2000. Longitudinal data from these 2 resources for encounters between February 2001 and October 2015 were analyzed to understand the relation between SVAL, and TBI while adjusting for ocular covariates such as open globe injury (OGI), disorders of the anterior segment and disorders of the posterior segment in a logistic regression model. TBI cases in DVEIVR were identified using DVBIC data and classified according to International Statistical Classification of Diseases criteria established by DVBIC. Head trauma and other open head wounds (OOHW) were also included. SVAL cases in DVEIVR were identified using both International Statistical Classification of Diseases criteria for blindness and low vision as well as visual acuity test data recorded in DVEIVR. Results Data for a total of 25,193 unique patients with 88,996 encounters were recorded in DVEIVR from February, 2001 to November, 2015. Of these, 7,217 TBI and 1,367 low vision cases were identified, with 638 patients experiencing both. In a full logistic model, neither UTBI nor differentiated TBI (DTBI, ie, mild, moderate, severe, penetrating, or unclassified) were significant risk factors for SVAL although ocular injuries (disorders of the anterior segment, disorders of the posterior segment, and OGI) and OOHW were significant. Conclusion Any direct injury to the eye or head risks SVAL but the location and severity will modify that risk. After adjusting for OGIs, OOHW and their sequelae, TBI was found to not be a significant risk factor for SVAL in patients recorded in DVEIVR. Further research is needed to explore whether TBI is associated with more moderate levels of vision acuity loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1576-E1583
JournalMilitary medicine
Volume185
Issue number9-10
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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