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Visual Motion Sensitivity: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options

Do you find going to a busy grocery store or mall overwhelming? 

Do you find yourself suddenly nauseous from being in a car? 

Visual motion sensitivity, also known as visual vertigo or visual motion sickness, is a condition characterized by a sensitivity to motion, particularly in the visual field. It can cause a range of symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, headaches, and fatigue, and can significantly impact a person's quality of life. The condition can be caused by a variety of factors, including issues with binocular vision or visual processing, migraines, or certain medications. Visual motion sensitivity is sometimes a byproduct of a stroke or a traumatic brain injury. If left untreated, visual motion sensitivity can hinder daily activities and reduce overall quality of life.

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Visual Motion Sensitivity: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options Optometrist

Visual Motion Sensitivity: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options Videos

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Exploring the Symptoms of Visual Motion Sensitivity and Their Impact on Your Vision

The symptoms associated with visual motion sensitivity can vary, but some of the most common ones include:

Nausea and dizziness

Patients with visual motion sensitivity may experience feelings of nausea and dizziness when they are exposed to certain visual stimuli. This can be particularly problematic when they are in a moving vehicle or trying to watch a fast-paced movie.

Headaches

Headaches are another common symptom of visual motion sensitivity. Patients may experience a dull ache or a more severe migraine-like headache when they are exposed to certain visual stimuli.

Eye strain

Some patients may experience eye strain, blurred vision, or even double vision when they are exposed to certain types of visual stimuli.

Sensitivity to light

Patients with visual motion sensitivity may be more sensitive to light than other individuals. They may experience discomfort or pain when exposed to bright lights, especially if those lights are flashing or changing rapidly.

Anxiety

Visual motion sensitivity can also cause anxiety in some patients. They may feel anxious or uneasy when they know they will be exposed to certain visual stimuli, or they may feel anxious in situations where they are unable to avoid those stimuli.

Difficulty with balance and coordination

In severe cases, visual motion sensitivity can cause problems with balance and coordination. Patients may have difficulty walking or standing when they are exposed to certain visual stimuli.

Vertigo

Patients with visual motion sensitivity may experience vertigo, which is a sensation of spinning or whirling. This can be a very disorienting and uncomfortable symptom. Learn more about vertigo and its connection to visual motion sensitivity.

Fatigue

Patients with visual motion sensitivity may feel tired or fatigued more easily than other individuals. This can be a result of the physical and emotional stress that this condition can cause.

Understanding the Causes of Visual Motion Sensitivity: Insights from Our Neuro Optometrist

Understanding the Causes of Visual Motion Sensitivity: Insights from Our Neuro Optometrist

These are some of the most common causes of visual motion sensitivity:

Inner ear disorders

Disorders of the inner ear, such as vestibular disorders, can cause visual motion sensitivity. This is because the inner ear is responsible for balance and orientation, and when it is not functioning properly, it can cause visual disturbances.

Migraines

Migraines are a common cause of visual motion sensitivity. Patients who suffer from migraines may experience a variety of visual disturbances, including sensitivity to light and motion.

Traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury can cause a variety of visual disturbances, including visual motion sensitivity. This is because the brain is responsible for processing visual information, and when it is damaged, it can cause a variety of visual disturbances. To learn more about how traumatic brain injuries can affect your vision, please visit our website.

Anxiety and stress

Anxiety and stress can also cause visual motion sensitivity. When patients are under stress or experiencing anxiety, it can cause physical symptoms, including visual disturbances.

Medications

Certain medications can cause visual motion sensitivity as a side effect. This includes medications used to treat migraines, depression, and other conditions.

Eye conditions

Some eye conditions can cause visual motion sensitivity. For example, patients with astigmatism or other refractive errors may experience visual disturbances when looking at moving objects.

Sensory processing disorder

Sensory processing disorder can cause a variety of sensory disturbances, including visual motion sensitivity. This is because patients with sensory processing disorder have difficulty processing and interpreting sensory information.

Genetic factors

There may be a genetic component to visual motion sensitivity. Some patients may be more susceptible to this condition due to their genetic makeup.

Diagnosing Visual Motion Sensitivity: Understanding the Process

Diagnosing Visual Motion Sensitivity: Understanding the Process

Diagnosing visual motion sensitivity involves several steps to identify the underlying cause of the condition. These are some of the most common methods used to diagnose visual motion sensitivity:

Patient history

Taking a detailed patient history is an important first step in diagnosing visual motion sensitivity. This can help identify potential triggers and underlying conditions that may be contributing to the patient's symptoms.

Physical examination

A physical examination, including an eye exam, can help rule out underlying eye conditions that may be contributing to visual motion sensitivity. This may include checking for refractive errors, assessing eye movements, and checking for signs of ocular disease or injury.

Neurological examination

A neurological examination may also be performed to assess the function of the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. This may include assessing reflexes, muscle strength, and coordination.

Sensory processing evaluation

Patients with visual motion sensitivity may also undergo a sensory processing evaluation to assess how their brain processes sensory information. This may include evaluating how the patient responds to different stimuli, such as light and sound.

Diagnostic tests

In some cases, diagnostic tests may be performed to help identify the underlying cause of visual motion sensitivity.

Assessment of balance and gait 

Oftentimes following an injury the brain might shift the image seen by our eyes. In turn the patient will shift their gait and how they hold themselves. This gives good information to our neuro optometrist on the current condition of the patient's vision. 

Symptom tracking

Patients with visual motion sensitivity may also be asked to track their symptoms over time, including when they occur, how long they last, and what triggers them. This can help identify patterns and potential triggers that may be contributing to the patient's symptoms.

It is important to note that the diagnosis of visual motion sensitivity can be complex and may require the expertise of multiple healthcare providers, including neuro optometrists, neurologists, and other specialists. However, with a thorough evaluation and diagnosis, it is possible to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses the underlying cause of the patient's symptoms.

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Effective Treatment Options for Visual Motion Sensitivity: Discover Relief for Your Symptoms Today

Effective Treatment Options for Visual Motion Sensitivity: Discover Relief for Your Symptoms Today

There are several visual motion sensitivity treatment options available that can help alleviate symptoms and improve visual comfort and function. Here are some of the most common treatment options for visual motion sensitivity:

Lifestyle modifications

Making lifestyle modifications can help reduce the frequency and severity of visual motion sensitivity symptoms. Patients may be advised to avoid triggers, such as bright lights or fast-moving images, and to incorporate stress-reducing activities like meditation or yoga.

Vision therapy

Vision therapy is a type of treatment that involves a series of exercises and activities designed to improve visual processing, eye movement, and coordination. This may be beneficial for patients with visual motion sensitivity caused by issues with binocular vision or visual processing.

Medications

Depending on the underlying cause of visual motion sensitivity, medications may be prescribed to reduce symptoms. Anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, or medications to treat migraine headaches may be used.

Specialty lenses

For some patients, wearing specialty lenses, such as tinted lenses or lenses with prism, may help reduce symptoms by altering the way light enters the eye.

Surgery

In rare cases, surgery may be recommended to correct an underlying condition that is contributing to visual motion sensitivity, such as strabismus or nystagmus.

Color filters

Color filters, such as those used in the Intuitive Colorimeter, can be used to determine if a specific color can reduce or alleviate visual discomfort.

Computer software

Computer software programs that can alter images, such as those developed by the team at the Visual Processing Institute, can reduce the amount of movement in images and videos to alleviate visual motion sensitivity.

Virtual reality exposure therapy

Virtual reality exposure therapy involves exposing patients to virtual environments that mimic real-world situations that trigger their visual motion sensitivity. This therapy can help patients desensitize to their triggers and reduce symptoms.

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Common Questions

Visual motion sensitivity can be caused by a variety of factors, including issues with binocular vision or visual processing, migraines, or certain medications. In some cases, it can also be associated with neurological conditions, such as post-concussion syndrome or vestibular disorders.
Improving visual motion sensitivity often involves a combination of approaches, depending on the underlying cause. Some tips to improve visual motion sensitivity may include reducing screen time, optimizing lighting conditions, and wearing tinted lenses or filters to reduce visual stress. Other options may include vision therapy exercises to improve visual processing and reduce sensitivity to motion.
Treating motion sensitivity depends on the underlying cause. Some possible treatments may include lifestyle modifications such as reducing screen time or avoiding triggering activities, medication to manage symptoms such as nausea or dizziness, or physical therapy to improve balance and reduce sensitivity to motion.
Treatment for visual vertigo may involve a combination of approaches, depending on the underlying cause. Some possible treatment options may include lifestyle modifications, medication to manage symptoms, vision therapy to improve visual processing, or surgery in more severe cases.
Visual vertigo is characterized by a sensitivity to motion in the visual field, which can cause a range of symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, headaches, and fatigue. Other signs may include difficulty with balance or coordination, a sense of disorientation, or a feeling of being unsteady on one's feet.
A visual vertigo diagnosis is typically made by an optometrist for visual motion sensitivity, a physical therapist, or a neurologist. These professionals can perform a thorough exam and review the patient's medical history to determine the underlying cause of their symptoms and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Stress can be a trigger for visual vertigo, particularly if the stress is related to an event or activity that involves visual stimuli, such as reading or driving. Stress can also exacerbate existing visual motion sensitivity or other related conditions, such as migraines.
The duration of visual vertigo can vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. In some cases, symptoms may resolve on their own within a few days or weeks, while in others, ongoing treatment may be necessary to manage symptoms and improve visual function.
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Relief from Visual Motion Sensitivity: Take the First Step Towards Better Vision Today

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of visual motion sensitivity, don't wait to see our neuro optometrist. We understand the impact that this condition can have on a person's quality of life. That's why we urge you to schedule an appointment with us to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and develop a personalized treatment plan. With the right care and personalized treatment plan from our experienced neuro optometrists, you can improve your visual comfort and function and get back to doing the things you love. To schedule a comprehensive eye exam, you can reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit. Our team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need.

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