Are you known as the klutz in your family? Do you routinely bump into doorways, walk into walls or trip over your own feet? While many people just accept this trait as part of their genetic makeup and move on, there are others who are so klutzy that they become stressed and anxious, not knowing when their next bout of clumsiness is going to strike and fearful of possible injury. In many cases, people who experience these issues are not innately clumsy at all: they’re suffering from a medical condition known as vertical heterophoria.
How Vertical Heterophoria Contributes to Clumsiness
Vertical heterophoria (VH) is a binocular vision dysfunction that affects how the eyes work together as a team. With VH, the vertical alignment of the eyes is off-kilter, with one of them being higher than the other. This makes it extremely hard for the eyes to focus on the same place, resulting in poor stereo vision (the combining of two separate images from each eye into one 3D image). Inferior stereo vision in turn leads to poor spatial awareness and depth perception, as evidenced by this testimonial shared by N.S., one of our patients:
“My family would always tease me about how clumsy I was. I couldn’t even walk in a straight line. This got worse as I got older until I tripped and fell in the subway. I became so nervous to go out because I couldn’t walk straight or judge how to step off a curb. I consulted many doctors who diagnosed me with anxiety disorder. I really didn’t think I had anxiety disorder at all. I was anxious because I was afraid I was going to fall due to my poor depth perception. I learned about Dr. Debby Feinberg’s work from the internet and was excited to learn that Dr. Cheryl Berger Israeloff was trained by Dr. Feinberg herself and she was only a train ride away. Dr. Cheryl understood my problems and was able to diagnosis and treat my vertical heterophoria. I am very grateful.”
Signs Your Child Might Be Having Vision Problems
When children are young, they don’t often bring vision problems to the attention of the adults around them. The vision they have is what they’ve always known, what they’re used to, so they usually don’t even realize there’s anything wrong. That’s why it’s so important for the adults in their lives to be vigilant in looking for signs of possible vision issues. These signs include:
Headaches. If you wear corrective eyewear yourself, you know what a strain it is on your eyes if you misplace your glasses or need a new prescription. For kids who are squinting and straining all day in an effort to see things clearly, headaches are inevitable. If your child frequently seems grumpy or irritated for no reason or complains of their head hurting after a long day at school, a thorough neurovisual exam may be in order.
Clumsiness. All kids are clumsy to some degree, but excessive clumsiness could indicate blurred vision.
Avoiding activities that require detail. This includes coloring, putting together puzzles, and making crafts.
Poor coordination. Young children aren’t going to uber-coordinated, but if they seem to struggle with activities that require hand-eye or hand-foot coordination, this may be an indicator of VH.
Schedule a Neurovisual Exam
If you’ve never heard of vertical heterophoria, it can seem a little scary – but it’s really not. Once a positive diagnosis is determined, our doctors here at the Neuro Visual Center of New York will set you up with a pair of aligning prismatic lenses to treat your VH, and you or your child can get back to enjoying all your favorite activities. For more information on our diagnosis and treatment processes, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (516) 224-4888.