Many patients who suffer from Vertical Heterophoria (VH) find themselves extremely anxious in large, open spaces with high ceilings, such as malls or big box stores. VH is a type of binocular vision dysfunction that causes the images from the two eyes to be misaligned. Such places can feel very chaotic to people with VH, and even a short trip can be exhausting. The bright fluorescent lights, a dizzying array of products and noise that comes from the combined sounds of carts moving, people talking, children crying and check-out stations beeping can be very overwhelming.
Visual vertigo is something that occurs when an overload of visual stimuli triggers dizziness. There is so much visual input coming in to the brain; the person feels overwhelmed. When combined with movement, this increased visual stimulation causes the sensation of dizziness to increase, leading to an increase in anxiety. Patients report this dizziness as a lightheaded, almost drunken feeling.
VH patients can also experience this when driving due to the increased amount of visual stimulation on either side of the car, especially at higher speeds. It can also be brought on by something as simple as trying to cross a busy street. This cycle of dizziness and anxiety can cause a person to lose their sense of control and perspective. Over time, these feelings become so intense that the person can become agoraphobic: too fearful and anxious to even leave their home.
In order for your eyes to “see,” the brain has to be able to take the two images you’re seeing and combine them into one clear image. In a patient with a binocular vision disorder, the eyes are moved out of alignment. This process is interrupted, which means the brain is forced to find another way to bring these images into focus. The eye muscles contract to move the eyes back into the correct position. However, the consequence of this is that those muscles become sore and strained, resulting in headaches, problems with coordination and balance, neck and shoulder pain, dizziness, and anxiety.
Micro-prismatic aligning lenses are the treatment of choice for VH. Our custom method of prescribing prismatic lenses is this key to our success. On average, patients find an 80% reduction in symptoms in a short period without time-consuming or costly therapy. Contact The Neuro Visual Center of New York to learn more at (516) 224-4888. You can also fill out our questionnaire online.