Many people have experienced what they believe to be sinus pain and discomfort, only to be told by the medical professionals from which they seek help that their sinuses are clear. Others experience headaches, dizziness, anxiety or problems with balance, and no underlying cause can be found. This is understandably upsetting and frustrating to these patients, but not uncommon. It is because there is another condition known as Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD) that can bring about all of these symptoms. Fortunately, there is a way to tell the difference: the 5-Minute Cover Test.
About the 5-Minute Cover Test
This simple test requires no special equipment and can easily be performed at home. The next time you feel symptoms, take a moment to rate the pain you are feeling: one being a mild ache, and 10 being a pounding headache. After rating your pain, cover one eye or the other with your hand, find an object to focus on in the distance and relax. After five minutes, still covering your eye, rate your pain again. If the pain seems to have lessened, there’s a good possibility that the issue isn’t originating from your sinuses at all, but rather from your eyes. If the test doesn’t seem to make a difference in your pain level, try it again, covering your other eye just to be sure.
Check out this graphic for more information about performing the 5-Minute Cover Test.
The Basics of BVD
In order for your visual system to work smoothly and seamlessly, the eyes must be in perfect alignment. This is what enables you to see one clear, focused image rather than a separate image in each eye (double vision). When your eyes are misaligned even slightly, the resulting double images will put your brain into overdrive as it works to correct the misalignment. It does this by forcing the small muscles in your eyes that control eye movement to move the eyes back into the proper position. While this is good in the sense that it helps you maintain clear eyesight, it’s challenging for eye muscles. The longer this misalignment goes on and the brain is forced to compensate for it, the more strain and pressure is put on those muscles. Eventually BVD will develop, along with some or all of its accompanying symptoms:
- Problems with balance
- Pain and pressure around the eyes
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble reading
- Headaches and dizziness
- Anxiety, particularly in crowds
Find Help at Vision Specialists of Michigan
At Vision Specialists of Michigan, we perform specialized NeuroVisual Examinations that help identify the slight misalignments that can lead to BVD. If, after performing a 5-minute cover test, you suspect BVD could be a problem, give us a call at (248) 258-9000 to schedule an exam. We’ll explain more about the special aligning lenses we use to treat BVD and other binocular vision disorders.