Are You Experiencing Vestibular Dysfunction? It Can Be Treated!

While vision isn’t the only component of the body that enables us to maintain our balance, it does play an important role which if disrupted, can make life more difficult. Vestibular dysfunction, a disorder which can affect balance, can be impacted by damage to the vision system. Neuro optometric rehabilitation can provide effective treatment to help you.

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Are You Experiencing Vestibular Dysfunction? It Can Be Treated! Optometrist
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What is Vestibular Dysfunction?

Vestibular dysfunction is an overarching term for balance disorders. Symptoms can include dizziness and vertigo, and it can make life more difficult, and more dangerous. The vestibular system itself is the link between the inner ears and brain that enables us to maintain balance. More recently, it has become understood that vision plays a role in the ability to balance as well. When something is out of order, that is vestibular dysfunction.

What Causes Vestibular Dysfunction?

There are several things which can lead to vestibular dysfunction, and depending on what caused it, treatment may vary.

Some causes include: 

  • Infections
  • Medicines
  • Calcium debris in the semicircular canals
  • Inner ear problems such as poor circulation
  • Problems in the brain, such as those caused by traumatic brain injuries
What are Symptoms of Vestibular Dysfunction?

What are Symptoms of Vestibular Dysfunction?

Vestibular dysfunction can have a wide variety of symptoms. 

Common symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling off-balance
  • Stumbling or falling
  • Disorientation
  • Feeling as though the world is spinning
  • Blurry vision

Less common symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
How is Vestibular Dysfunction Diagnosed?

How is Vestibular Dysfunction Diagnosed?

Since there are many potential causes of vestibular dysfunction, you may need several types of examinations to determine what the cause of your problem is. Part of the path to a diagnosis may require ruling out some causes in order to determine just what is causing the issue.

You may be recommended for one or more of the following:

  • Blood tests
  • Functional vision exam
  • Hearing exam
  • Clinical balance tests
  • Head and brain imaging
  • Posturography (an examination of your posture and movement)

How is Vestibular Dysfunction Treated?

There are several treatment options for vestibular dysfunction, and the type best suited for you will vary depending on the specific cause of your disorder.

  • Lifestyle changes (such as changes in diet and activity) may be recommended.
  • Underlying causes, such as an ear infection, may sometimes be treated with antibiotics or antifungal medication.
  • Canalith repositioning maneuvers (specialized movements of the head and chest) are designed to reposition particles inside your semicircular canals so they will no longer trigger symptoms.
  • Surgery is better avoided if possible, but if other methods of treatment are ineffective, it may be necessary.
  • If your vestibular dysfunction is caused by a vision issue, neuro optometric rehabilitation or prism lenses can be an effective treatment.
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Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation Treatment for Vestibular Dysfunction

Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation Treatment for Vestibular Dysfunction

Vision is now understood to play an important role in our ability to balance. The vestibular system (the inner ear system which helps us balance) coordinates with the visual system through the brain to enable the eyes to properly fixate on a single location. This connection, called the vestibulo-ocular reflex, plays a major role in stabilizing the image we see when our head moves, thus helping us remain balanced. If this vision portion of this connection is disrupted, our ability to remain balanced diminishes.

As with many other vision problems, Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation is well equipped to treat this problem.

How is it Diagnosed?

Neuro optometrists specialize in understanding how vision issues impact other areas of our lives. To determine if a vision issue is the cause of your vestibular dysfunction, our neuro optometrist will perform a functional eye exam, which evaluates many areas of the visual system that standard eye exams do not.
Our office is equipped with advanced technology to further assess visual health and function, our neuro optometrist will assess for each patient what tests are needed. 

How Does Treatment Work?

Neuro optometric rehabilitation therapy helps patients retrain their eyes and brain to regain the lost functionality due to vestibular dysfunction. Various techniques and exercises are used to get the eyes to effectively work as a team and to see visual space in an accurate manner. Your treatment is highly personalized to suit your unique situation and needs.

Prism Lenses can also help correct some of the possible underlying causes of vestibular dysfunction.

What are Symptoms of Vestibular Dysfunction?
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Common Questions

Vestibular dysfunction often presents with various symptoms, but the most common is a persistent sense of imbalance or unsteadiness, frequently described as vertigo. Individuals may feel as though they or their surroundings are spinning, swaying, or tilting. This disorientation can make normal activities challenging and often causes associated nausea or vomiting. Visiting an eye doctor or a neuro optometrist can be essential as these professionals can help assess whether visual disturbances contribute to the vestibular symptoms.
Whether vestibular dysfunction will resolve depends largely on its cause. For some, symptoms might reduce or disappear over time as the body adapts, a process known as vestibular compensation. This is often aided by vestibular rehabilitation therapy. However, chronic conditions may require ongoing management strategies. Consulting with an eye specialist skilled in neuro optometry can be crucial for understanding the full scope of the dysfunction.
Vestibular disorders range widely in their severity and causes, and while some might not be completely curable, many can be effectively managed with the right treatments. Vestibular rehabilitation, which often involves specific exercises to improve balance and reduce dizziness, can be very effective. As part of a multidisciplinary approach, a neuro optometrist can provide therapies to address any related vision problems.
Vestibular damage is not brain damage per se, but it is a dysfunction of the vestibular system, which is part of the inner ear and brain that processes sensory information related to balance and eye movements. Any disruption within this system can result in dizziness, balance problems, or vision disturbances. Thus, while vestibular disorders can manifest due to issues in the brain, they can also be due to problems in the inner ear.
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Vestibular dysfunction can be caused by a number of things, including vision issues. In those cases, neuro optometric rehabilitation is a very effective treatment method. If you are suffering from vestibular dysfunction, schedule an eye exam with your optometrist.

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