It may be your eyes:
When Sinus Headaches Are More Than What They Seem

When Sinus Headaches Are More Than What They Seem

Human sight is possible because of an incredibly complex system of interacting parts working together to form one of our most remarkable senses. Sometimes, however, certain parts of this intricate system can become out of balance, causing a shift in the alignment of the eyes that results in strained eye muscles. When this happens, certain symptoms can appear, such as blurred or double vision, headaches, and dizziness just to name a few. Sometimes people with headache symptoms mistakenly believe they have sinus issues, when what they really have is a binocular vision problem.

Can a Sinus Infection Affect Your Eyes?  The Effects of Sinus Infections

Many people wonder: “Can sinus infections cause dizziness or blurred vision?” The answer is: yes, a sinus infection can potentially affect your eyes, although it's not a direct effect. Sinus infections, also known as sinusitis, can cause various common symptoms such as a stuffy nose, postnasal drip, and more due to inflammation and congestion in the sinus passages. These symptoms can indirectly impact the eyes in several ways and cause eye complications.  

Eye Pressure: Sinus congestion can lead to increased pressure in the sinus cavities, including the area around your eyes. This increased facial pressure can sometimes cause discomfort or a feeling of pressure around the eyes.  

Eye Pain: The pressure and inflammation from chronic sinus infections can also radiate to the eye area, causing you to feel pain or discomfort around the eyes.  

Eye Discharge: Sinus infections can lead to increased production of mucus and postnasal drip. Beyond a runny nose, sore throat, and clogged nasal passages, this excess mucus can sometimes cause eye irritation, leading to watery or discharging eyes.  

Eyelid Swelling: Sinusitis can cause swelling of the tissues around the eyes, including the eyelids. This can make your eyes appear puffy or swollen.  

Vision Changes: In rare cases, chronic sinusitis that extends into the orbit (the bony cavity that houses the eye) can potentially cause vision problems such as blurry vision. Sinusitis dizziness and blurry vision point to a more serious complication and require prompt medical attention.  

It's important to note that while infected sinuses can indirectly affect the eyes, most eye symptoms related to sinusitis are mild and temporary. However, if you experience severe eye pain, changes in vision, or any concerning eye symptoms, it's crucial to see a doctor promptly to rule out more serious complications and receive appropriate treatment for acute sinusitis. Additionally, treating the underlying sinusitis through medications and other remedies can help alleviate eye-related symptoms.  

Many times, people may think they have a sinus infection when what they really have is BVD. It’s important to understand what causes BVD and how to address the underlying issues.

What Causes Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

The eyes are controlled by the extraocular muscles – the muscles that enable our eyes to move up, down, and all around. These muscles are directed by signals from the brain, which controls the direction the eyes point, allowing each one to be directly on target, which allows the brain to then merge these two images into one clear 3D image (i.e.-fusion). (BVD) occurs when the eyes move out of alignment with each other, making it impossible for them to form fused images. As a result of this misalignment, the brain overuses and strains the eye muscles in an attempt at realignment, leading to eye muscle discomfort as well as the previously mentioned symptoms of headaches, dizziness, and blurred vision, among other symptoms. The most common type of this condition is known as Vertical Heterophoria (VH).

How Symptoms of VH Can Be Mistaken for Sinusitis

When the eyes are no longer aligned vertically, the brain forces the extraocular muscles to work overtime to correct this problem in an effort to avoid double vision. The longer the muscles are compelled to do this, the more fatigued and overworked they become, at which point the symptoms of VH start to come to the forefront. The overworked eye muscles cause head pain, which can be focused around the eyes, sinuses, forehead, and temples. This pain is very similar to that felt with a sinus infection or headache, which is why many patients who have VH are misdiagnosed as having chronic rhinosinusitis.

Additional Symptoms of Vertical Heterophoria

Binocular vision disorders like VH can cause a number of other issues, including:
  • Light sensitivity.
  • Reading difficulties.
  • Motion sickness, nausea, and poor depth perception.
  • Anxiety when in a crowd or in large, open buildings with high ceilings.
At Vision Specialists of Michigan, our doctors address the vision-related symptoms of BVD and VH with a unique treatment method: micro-prism lenses. These lenses work to align the images seen by the eyes, so the extraocular muscles don't have to strain to do so.

Make an Appointment Today

If you've seen multiple doctors and tried various treatments for your sinus headaches without receiving relief, the problem may not be your sinuses at all. It could be your eyes! To find out if you may be able to bid farewell to your headaches forever, you need to give Vision Specialists of Michigan a call at (208) 504-2900 or complete our BVD questionnaire.

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Tagged With: Binocular Vision Dysfunction, Dizziness, Headaches and Migraines,

It may be your eyes

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It may be your eyes

  • American Academy Optometry
  • American Optometric Association
  • Michigan Optometric Association
  • VEDA
  • Neuro Optometry Rehabilitation Association