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Binocular Vision Dysfunction

What’s Causing My Migraines?

What’s Causing My Migraines 640×350Chronic migraines are difficult to live with, especially when they get in the way of your productivity and enjoyment of life. But what many don’t know is that migraines can sometimes be linked to binocular vision dysfunction (BVD).

Below, we explore some common causes of migraines and how binocular vision dysfunction may play a role.

Migraines: Symptoms and Causes

A migraine is a neurological condition that can present with a host of symptoms, including:

  • Chronic and intense headaches, usually pulsing or throbbing
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating or chills
  • Blurred vision or temporary vision loss
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

The frequency and intensity of migraine symptoms vary from person to person, but the main symptom is usually intense pain in at least one part of the head. Some people have migraines with aura (sensory, motor and speech disturbances).

While the exact cause of migraines is unknown, there are several contributing factors. Some common causes and triggers of migraines include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • An imbalance in brain chemistry
  • Sensory stimuli, like flashes of light or strong odors
  • Certain medications
  • Certain foods
  • Stress
  • Excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Dehydration
  • Binocular vision dysfunction

What Is Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

Binocular vision dysfunction (BVD) is a horizontal or vertical misalignment of the eyes. This misalignment makes it difficult or even impossible for the eyes to work together as a team. When each eye sends a slightly different image to the brain, the brain and eyes struggle to unite them into one clear, unified image.

People with BVD may experience a wide range of physical, visual or emotional symptoms. Because BVD shares many symptoms with other conditions, it is often overlooked or mistaken for other causes.

The migraines, neck pain, dizziness, nausea and anxiety that many people with BVD experience can make it harder to carry out daily tasks like driving, reading and concentrating in school or at work.

How Can BVD Cause Migraines?

To compensate for the eyes’ incorrect positioning, the muscles in and around the eyes overexert themselves in order to reposition the eyes. In other words, the pain arising from a BVD-related migraine is caused by strained eye muscles.

This is why adults or children who experience migraines on a regular or occasional basis should have their vision thoroughly evaluated to rule out BVD.

How is BVD Treated?

Patients diagnosed with BVD typically experience massive relief when wearing prism glasses. These specialized glasses contain microprisms in the lenses that refocus light in a way that bypasses the eye’s misalignment. In many cases, patients experience immediate relief upon first wearing prism glasses.

Whether you’re living with migraines or experiencing other visual symptoms, a functional vision evaluation can diagnose underlying visual dysfunction and lead to appropriate treatment.

To schedule a functional visual evaluation for yourself or a loved one, call today!

serves patients from Lititz, Lancaster County, Elizabeth Township, and East Petersburg, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Kathryn Collins

Q: What other conditions can be mistaken for BVD?

  • A: BVD may cause or contribute to symptoms that mimic conditions like anxiety, agoraphobia, ADHD, reading and learning disabilities, spinal or neck misalignment, chronic fatigue syndrome, temporomandibular joint disorders and Meniere’s disease. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, visit your optometrist to rule out BVD.

Q: How common is BVD?

  • A: BVD is thought to affect 1-8% of the population, although more research is needed in the field. Because BVD may be confused with other conditions, it makes accurate diagnosing more difficult.

Is it a Learning Disability or is it BVD?

Is it a Learning Disability or is it BVD 640×350Parents and teachers have noticed that the number of children diagnosed with learning disabilities (LD) and behavioral problems seem to be growing. Many of these kids have trouble concentrating and struggle with reading and writing, to the point where they can become angry and easily frustrated.

While learning disabilities are a real concern, some children diagnosed with LDs actually have a binocular vision dysfunction (BVD), a condition that occurs when the eyes are misaligned. Being misdiagnosed means that they do not receive the treatment that would help them excel in school.

How BVD Symptoms Are Mistaken for Learning Disabilities

Binocular vision dysfunction has symptoms that are very similar to learning disabilities. Because of the substantial overlap between these two conditions, it’s difficult to distinguish between them without performing the appropriate tests for both learning disabilities and functional vision.

Teachers typically recommend that children who have problems reading and writing, or have trouble concentrating, get tested for learning disabilities and ADHD. It’s only due to lack of awareness that the teacher doesn’t refer them for a BVD evaluation.

Symptoms of Binocular Vision Dysfunction

Binocular Vision Dysfunction is the eyes’ inability to work together as a team due to the eyes’ physical misalignment.

When our eyes work in perfect harmony, the brain is able to integrate the two images sent by our eyes into a single, distinct image. When our eyes are even slightly misaligned, each eye sends the brain two slightly different images, which the brain has a hard time combining into a single clear image. This is known as BVD.

One common form of BVD is Vertical Heterophoria (VH). VH occurs when a subtle vertical eye misalignment is present. This means one eye is slightly higher than the other, causing the eye muscles to work hard to correct the misalignment. The muscles eventually become fatigued and overworked due to the constant eye strain. This vertical misalignment of the eyes can result in a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Irritability
  • Lightheadedness & dizziness
  • Migraines & headaches
  • Problems focusing
  • Reading difficulties
  • Vertigo
  • Anxiety

How to Treat BVD

The best way to treat BVD is by wearing aligning prismatic lenses. Neuro-optometrists prescribe these lenses to correct the eyes’ misalignment.

Aligning prismatic lenses modify incoming light before it reaches your eyes, allowing your brain to blend the images from both eyes into one image. Your brain is tricked by the prisms in the glasses into believing your eyes are perfectly aligned. This unified image minimizes BVD symptoms by preventing your eye muscles from straining to compensate for the misalignment.

Usually, patients find that their symptoms gradually subside or completely disappear once they begin wearing their prescribed prism lenses.

At , we care about your vision. If your child has been told they have a learning disability and you want to know whether BVD is at the root of their struggles, contact us to schedule an appointment today.

serves patients from Lititz, Lancaster County, Elizabeth Township, and East Petersburg, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Kathryn Collins

Q: How does BVD affect reading?

  • A: Similar to ADHD or a learning disability, BVD can affect your reading. You may find your child rereading for comprehension or having difficulty concentrating, skipping lines or losing their place while reading. They may also find that the words run together while reading.

Q: How common is BVD in children with learning disabilities?

  • A: It’s estimated that up to 50% of children who have been diagnosed with dyslexia, ADD/ADHD and other conditions that impede learning and concentration may actually have BVD and not these conditions. In some cases, children have learning disabilities as well as BVD.