If you have been referred to Dr. Deviney for vision testing specifically related to problems with dizziness and/or vertigo symptoms, you likely have many questions as to how we might be able to help you.
Our visual system and our vestibular (balance) system in the brain are designed to counter balance each other. The Vestibular Disorders Association has an interesting analogy to explain this concept, which consists of a photographer and a camera. The vestibular system is the photographer that is responsible for holding the camera, the visual system, steady for producing clear pictures.
Even if you have a good working visual system (like a very expensive camera), if your vestibular system is not functioning properly you may experience issues with focusing, unsteady objects, or double vision; just like an unsteady photographer might end up with blurry photos or double exposures, which might be very difficult to look at.
Need another demonstration to help you understand? Stand up, look off in to the distance and lift one leg and try to keep your balance for a few seconds. Shouldn’t be very difficult. Now try it with your eyes closed. Do you find it to be much harder? That’s because your visual system works together with your balance system!
The vestibular system sends signals via the nervous system to the eye muscles through an automatic function known as the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR). The VOR maintains balance and controls eye positions while the head moves so that the gaze remains stable. Any minor “disconnect” within this system can create a number of different “phantom” symptoms that you may have never associated with your vision.
These symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Motion Sickness
- Double vision
- Neck/Shoulder/Back Pain
- Difficulty viewing 3D or Action movies
- Unsteadiness while walking
- Pain behind the eye(s)
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Difficulty with reading and comprehension
- Constant head tilt to one side
Most eye doctors are not aware of the link between these symptoms and eye misalignment, because we are not taught about this in optometry college. I discovered an article written by an optometrist in the 1950’s and then started experimenting on the effects of prismatic lenses with my staff back in 2010. I even prescribed them to myself and we couldn’t really believe the results. I wrote about my initial experiences in this blog post.
Even with minor imperfections, the body will try to compensate just like it does for any other imbalance. Have you ever limped before? It’s a compensation for a functional imbalance. If you do that long enough, something has to give until the condition is treated. Prismatic lenses steady and relax the eyes so that the eye muscles aren’t overused creating a better balance of the eyes. This also results in better information for the vestibular system leading to a dramatic reduction in the symptoms above.
What is a Prism? Prism in glasses changes the virtual location of an image and can fool your eyes into thinking they are working together without strain. Prism can also help with double vision by aligning the two images into one. I prescribe a lot of prism for my patients, with excellent results. Some patients who require prism can wear contact lenses, and some can’t.
So what do you call this? Is there a name for this condition? Well, not just one, but…
Vertical Heterophoria is an eye condition which is caused by an unnoticeably tiny difference in the height of each eye, making one eye slightly higher than the other. Affecting as much as 2/3 of the population, this misalignment is so slight that it cannot be detected by the naked eye. Even if you’re worn glasses or contacts for years, you’ve probably never heard of this vision imperfection. It is also called Binocular Vision Dysfunction or BVD by some eye doctors. Vision Specialists of Michigan has produced a great video where other medical professionals discuss the condition.
During a Binocular Vision Exam, expect to spend 45 minutes to an hour with Dr. Deviney. Some of the tests will look just like what you may have had done in your “routine” eye exams over the years. However, additional time and attention will be dedicated to assessing the alignment of your eyes through a variety of 3D tests and what’s called associated phoria testing. Most all optometrists know how to do this, but it’s the interpretation of the results that can vary dramatically.
If eye misalignment is found, Dr. Deviney will trial frame prismatic lenses for you in the exam room so that you can experience the potential results right then and there. If your feedback is positive, you will be written a prescription right then and will be able to go out and purchase glasses for the new prescription. Because of the complexity, it will usually take our offsite lab 7 to 10 business days to get the new glasses back to us.
Please give us a call if you’d like to schedule this exam. We can use medical insurance, but due to the prolonged nature of the testing and interpretation, we will not use any routine vision coverage, except for any glasses you may need.