Does Vision Therapy Help With Dizziness and Balance?
If you're feeling frustrated because you just can't get your dizziness under control, vision therapy may be the perfect option for you.
How Vision Issues Can Cause Dizziness and Balance Problems
If you have perfect vision or can see clearly with glasses or contact lenses, you may be wondering what vision therapy can do for you. Despite your good eyesight, you could still have a vision problem that's causing or worsening your dizziness and poor balance.
Maintaining your equilibrium requires constant communication between the inner ear, eyes, and brain. If the brain doesn't receive accurate information from the inner ear or eyes, you may feel dizzy and off balance.
Dizziness and balance problems may be due to:
- Eye Alignment Problems. Misaligned eyes send very different signals to the brain. Unfortunately, the brain may struggle to combine this information into one stable image. If that happens, you may experience blurry or double vision and might feel dizzy. Although major eye alignment problems are usually detected during childhood, minor misalignments may be overlooked or can occur after a head injury or stroke. These misalignments may not be noticeable but can still affect your balance and cause dizziness.
- Eye Scanning, Focusing, and Teaming Issues. The room may seem to spin or you may lose your balance easily if your eyes don't move smoothly when tracking an object in the sky or reading a book. If your eyes don't work together as a team, or you have trouble focusing on near objects, you may feel dizzy. Just like eye alignment problems, these issues aren't always obvious and may not be detected during standard vision tests.
- Concussion. Did your symptoms start hours, days, or weeks after a head injury? Even a minor concussion can damage cells needed to process visual information in the brain. Your injury could have affected your ability to focus or track objects with your eyes, caused peripheral vision problems, triggered involuntary eye movements, or slowed the transfer of signals from your eyes to your brain.
- Stroke. Balance issues and dizziness are common problems after a stroke. In addition to affecting speech or memory or causing weakness or paralysis, a stroke may cause problems with your vision, including poor binocular vision, misalignments, involuntary eye movements, visual processing issues, loss of peripheral vision, or trouble tracking objects. One of these issues is enough to cause dizziness and balance problems. If you have several vision problems, your symptoms can be quite severe and frustrating.
- Other Causes. Dizziness and balance problems can also be caused by vestibular dysfunction, viruses, eyestrain, spatial disorientation, and other conditions.
How Vision Therapy Can Help You
Vision therapy improves the connection between the eyes and brain, strengthens the muscles controlling your eyes, and can even help the brain create new visual pathways. Before you begin vision therapy, you'll visit a vision therapist and receive a comprehensive vision examination. During the visit, you'll read an eye chart, just like any other eye exam, but your vision therapist will also use a few highly specialized tests to determine why you feel dizzy and lose your balance.
Based on the results of the tests, your vision therapist will create a therapy plan designed to improve your particular vision issues. He or she may provide you with prism glasses that bend light rays entering your eyes and keep the rays properly aligned on your retinas. When the light enters your eyes at the correct angle, you may be less likely to feel dizzy or off balance.
Your therapy plan might involve activities that help the brain process and store the information it receives accurately. You may also work on improving your tracking and focusing ability and eye movements, or try activities that boost your ability to use your eyes as a team. Therapy involves hands-on activities and computer games that may eliminate or reduce dizziness and balance issues.
Vision therapy offers a safe and effective solution, as evidenced by a study in Optometry and Vision Science. The 2017 study focused on improving eye movements, focusing and eye teaming problems in people with post-concussion vision disorders. Eighty-five percent of the participants had a successful outcome after therapy, while 15% noticed an improvement in symptoms.
Wondering if vision therapy could improve your balance and dizziness? Contact our office to schedule a comprehensive vision examination.
NCBI: Optometry and Vision Science: Vision Therapy for Post-Concussion Vision Disorders, 1/2017
Medical News Today: Can Eye Exercises Help Vertigo?, 6/7/2022
Vestibular Disorders Association: Vision Challenges with Vestibular Disorders
Mayo Clinic: Balance Problems, 6/18/2020