It is believed that up to 10% of the general population suffers from vertical heterophoria (VH). VH can be congenital, meaning that it’s something you’re born with. It can also develop after a traumatic brain injury (TBI), even if it’s just a mild concussion. VH can cause a myriad of symptoms, including headaches and dizziness, light sensitivity, reading difficulties and a feeling of being unbalanced.
When Do Symptoms of VH Manifest?
Although many people have one eye that is physically higher than the other one, not everybody with this trait experiences the symptoms of VH. Many patients don’t exhibit any symptoms until they hit a certain age. Typically, this occurs in the 40s, when our bodies begin to show their age and muscle systems have a harder time functioning as they once did. Sometimes, stress on the body caused by illnesses and conditions such as an inner ear infection, pregnancy, Lyme disease or even the flu can be the trigger that causes VH symptoms to appear.
How a TBI Can Lead to VH
Up to 50% of patients who are still suffering from post-concussive symptoms three months after experiencing a TBI have developed vertical heterophoria. This means that the signals from the visual system, the vestibular system and the brain aren’t functioning properly. Many people are misdiagnosed with convergence insufficiency – a binocular vision disorder that affects the eye muscles’ ability to move and coordinate properly – and the VH is missed. This is because the vertical component can be very small, and specific tests must be performed to identify the small vertical misalignments that characterize VH. When these misalignments are corrected, the eyes have a much easier time converging. This isn’t accomplished with eye exercises, however, because the vertical muscles cannot be trained. It’s for this reason that so many patients still have significant symptoms after months of vision therapy.
Get Treated at Neuro Visual Center of New York
At the Neuro Visual Center of New York, we use very precise prismatic correction in a pair of glasses to correct these misalignments. Most patients experience a 70-80% reduction in symptoms by the end of treatment, with significant relief felt within the first few minutes of trying out their customized prismatic lenses. No lengthy or costly vision therapy; just a very unique pair of glasses. If you’d like to find out for certain if vertical heterophoria is behind the blurred vision or other symptoms you’ve been experiencing, please fill out the BVD questionnaire and we’ll contact you with your results. You can also reach out to us by calling (516) 224-4888 to set up an appointment for a neurovisual examination.