Vision-Related Motion Sickness
Motion sickness refers to that woozy sensation one gets when traveling by car, boat, plane, on roller coasters and ferris wheels. Motion sickness and visual vertigo (dizziness and unsteadiness brought on by visual triggers) can produce similar symptoms, and are sometimes mistaken for one another. Both conditions can be due to issues in your visual system, so if you find yourself becoming disoriented, dizzy, or nauseous, it may be time to visit a neuro-optometrist.
Those who suffer from motion sickness often find it difficult or impossible to drive, play sports, go on amusement park rides, or be in an environment with fast or moderate motion. Engaging in these activities or being in visually-busy settings can produce uncomfortable — even debilitating — symptoms.
Fortunately, a neuro-optometrist can offer help. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of motion sickness, contact Blacksburg Eye Associates to schedule a functional visual evaluation.
What is Motion Sickness?
Motion sickness occurs when the body’s motion receptors send conflicting messages to the brain. For instance, some people experience nausea or other uncomfortable symptoms when reading from a book (or screen) while riding in a moving vehicle. This is because the eyes are focused on a still object — the words on a page — while the motion receptors in the inner ear sense motion. These conflicting messages are what contribute to the feeling of motion sickness.
How Can Vision Cause Motion Sickness Symptoms?
The visual input that comes from the eyes helps the brain understand where you are in relation to your surroundings. Other sensory information about the body’s position and stability come from receptors in the inner ear (vestibular sensors) as well as receptors in the legs and feet that inform the brain about any body movements and where they are located in relation to the rest of the body. The visual system, along with the other sensory receptors, all work together to keep you feeling balanced and stable.
Someone with visual dysfunction may experience motion sickness due to the inaccurate visual information being processed by the brain. This mismatch of visual input with vestibular cues causes you to experience vision-related motion sickness.
One visual condition that commonly causes motion sickness symptoms is binocular vision disorder (BVD). In BVD, the eyes are misaligned and each eye sends a separate image to the brain. To compensate for the conflicting visual messages, the brain works very hard to create a unified image and sometimes forces the eyes into correct alignment. This process can cause several symptoms, including those of motion sickness.
Symptoms of Vision-Related Motion Sickness
It’s common to experience any of the following symptoms of vision-relation motion sickness:
- Upset stomach
- Trouble maintaining balance
How Our Doctors Treat Vision-Related Motion Sickness
At Blacksburg Eye Associates, we treat the problem at its source — the brain and its connection to the visual system. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy is a process by which the brain is “rewired” to work in unison with the eyes. This method is highly effective in treating motion sickness if the problem is a dysfunction in the visual system.
At the initial consultation, Dr. John Dovie and Dr. Adrianna Hempelmann will thoroughly evaluate your eyes and various visual skills to determine whether your visual system is contributing to your motion sickness. If a problem with visual function or processing is detected, Dr. John Dovie and Dr. Adrianna Hempelmann may prescribe neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.
Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy is a highly personalized program of exercises that develop the communication between the brain and the eyes. The program may also use several therapeutic tools, such as specialized lenses and prisms, to aid in the developmental process. Some practices offer only prism lenses as a treatment for motion sickness or visual vertigo. While this can lessen symptoms in the short term, prism lenses alone don’t offer lasting relief since the condition itself isn’t corrected. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation is unique in that it can actually reverse the cause of the condition, offering long-lasting relief.
If you or a loved one suffers from motion sickness, speak with Dr. John Dovie and Dr. Adrianna Hempelmann about how we can help.
Blacksburg Eye Associates serves patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, New River Valley, and throughout Virginia.