It’s fascinating how we learn to perceive things as normal when that’s the only way we’ve ever known. Here, Dr. Israeloff shares an experience she had with a recent patient.
A patient of mine reported yesterday seeing an overlapping shadow image in her eye. This is a very intelligent woman, now in her 30’s, who’s been noticing this since childhood. She couldn’t believe that everyone didn’t see this way!
Viewing the World Through a Flawed Lens
I find the different ways that people perceive their visual world extremely interesting. If someone has seen a particular way their entire life, it’s understandable that they would believe that everyone else shared the same view. It’s similar to what’s experienced by a person who’s nearsighted and has never had glasses. The first time they try on a pair of glasses with the appropriate prescription, they are amazed at the details of the world around them. It’s like that for a person who has vertical heterophoria as well. When the eyes are aligned, the shadow image goes away. The patient then experiences clarity, detail and depth perception, perhaps for the first time in their life!
The Symptoms & Causes of Vertical Heterophoria
Vertical heterophoria is a binocular vision disorder characterized not only by shadow images and double vision symptoms, but also headaches, migraines and dizziness. In addition, people with VH may experience symptoms that are not immediately connected with the eyes, such as anxiety, nausea, unsteadiness while walking, and motion sickness.
All of these symptoms and more are caused by a misalignment of the eyes. As the brain works hard to correct this misalignment, it puts stress on the eye muscles, resulting in overworked eyes that exhibit the symptoms of VH. As vertical heterophoria is a relatively unknown disorder, it is often misdiagnosed as other medical conditions such as migraine disorder or vertigo. Many of these symptoms are also the result of an inner ear disorder or MS, so if you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s extremely important to have a thorough neurovisual exam by a qualified professional to determine exactly what is causing them.
The Root of the Problem
People who feel off-balance both mentally and physically often attribute their condition to the food they eat, stress at work or even their daily habits. And for some, like my recent patient, it’s just normal for them because they’ve never known anything else. Many of these people suffer with their symptoms for years, not realizing that the eyes are the culprit. This experience just drives home the point that as a good doctor, I need to ask the right questions and carefully listen to the answers.
Get Help at the Neuro Visual Center
As a neurovisual professional, Dr. Israeloff not only specializes in diagnosing VH and other binocular vision disorders, but in treating them as well. If you suspect that you might have binocular vision dysfunction but want to be certain before contacting the Neuro Visual Center, consider filling out the BVD questionnaire on our website. We have both an adult and a youth questionnaire that will help determine if you or a loved one has BVD. When you’re done, we can be contacted at (516) 224-4888 with any questions you may have.