It may be your eyes:
The 411 on Vertical Heterophoria


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The 411 on Vertical Heterophoria

Because headaches and dizziness can originate from a variety of different medical conditions, people who experience these symptoms are frequently misdiagnosed. One such disorder that’s often mistaken for other conditions is Vertical Heterophoria (VH), which is caused by an eye misalignment. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that this is a little-known condition, which means that it’s not well-understood by the doctors and specialists that VH patients turn to for help. As a result, they struggle to receive proper, effective treatment. Dr. Debby Feinberg of Vision Specialists of Michigan has led the way in the diagnosis and treatment of VH and other binocular vision disorders. Below we discuss VH, its symptoms and how Dr. Feinberg and our other talented specialists diagnose and treat this condition.

Vertical Heterophoria: The Basics

Have you ever wondered why, despite having two eyes, you only see one image? This is because our brain is so intricate and complex that it’s able to turn two separate images into one clear three-dimensional image. However, in order for this to occur, it’s essential for the eyes to be in perfect alignment. If they aren’t in alignment, your eyes will transmit two images to the brain, one at a slightly different position than the other. The brain won’t accept this situation and responds by forcing the extraocular muscles of the eyes to fix the problem by realigning the eyes. The realignment doesn’t hold and misalignment then recurs, which is followed closely by realignment. Over time, the continuous cycle of misalignment and realignment puts a great deal of strain on the eye muscles. This causes them to become tired and sore, which can lead to a variety of unpleasant and sometimes painful symptoms, which are indicators of Vertical Heterophoria.

Common VH Symptoms

While the symptoms of VH vary from person to person and can include any of the following:  
  • Dizziness & nausea
  • Vertigo
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Reading problems
  • Pain on eye movement
  • Anxiety in large, crowded places
  • Feeling disoriented while riding in a car
  • Painful sinuses
  • Balance issues
  • Neck pain
  • Headache
Unfortunately, because a lot of these symptoms coincide with other, more common medical conditions, VH patients tend to be misdiagnosed. For instance, children who have trouble staying focused at school and are lagging behind classmates in their schoolwork may be misdiagnosed as having a learning disability or ADD/ADHD, when it’s really VH that’s behind the learning issues.

The Diagnosis & Treatment of VH

With the specialized training our doctors have and the state-of-the-art equipment we use at Vision Specialists of Michigan, we’re able to detect even the slightest of eye misalignments. In order to treat VH, we use glasses with customized aligning micro-prism lenses to realign the images. This helps reduce the strain on the eye aligning muscles and alleviate the symptoms, thus allowing VH patients to finally receive relief. If you think yourself or a loved one may be suffering from Vertical Heterophoria, please don’t hesitate to contact our specialists and get tested for this condition. Give us a call today at (248) 258-9000 to schedule an appointment or check out our online BVD questionnaire.  

Author:   Vision Specialists of Michigan

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