People experience nausea for a variety of reasons. However, some people experience episodes of nausea frequently, even daily. If you or someone you know is consistently suffering from feeling like you might become sick and vomit, it could be a condition affecting your eyes, known as Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD). This condition affects approximately 20% of individuals in the U.S.
How BVD Can Cause Nausea
BVD is the result of a slight misalignment between our eyes. While this misalignment can be very subtle, it can make it incredibly difficult for our eyes to send one clear image to our brain.
Here’s what happens when someone has BVD: With two eyes, we are able to see one clear image. This is because our brain is able to transform the images seen by each eye into a single image, which is known as binocular vision.
In patients with BVD, there is a slight misalignment between their eyes resulting in their eyes being out of sync with one another, causing the brain to have a very difficult time processing those two separate images to form one clear image.
The result? The brain forces the eye aligning muscles to fix the problem by realigning the eyes. But the realignment is only temporary and misalignment then recurs, which is followed closely by realignment, and the cycle of misalignment and realignment continues. Over time, this places an immense amount of strain on the eye muscles and leads to dizziness and regular episodes of nausea.
How Do You Know If You Have Binocular Vision Dysfunction?
People with Binocular Vision Dysfunction often experience a variety of symptoms that can be debilitating and reduce their quality of life. Someone with BVD might have difficulty with driving, be unable to go to work, and avoid social activities. The symptoms typically include pain, balance and coordination difficulties, reading, vision, and psychological symptoms.
Pain Symptoms: Such as face ache, eye pain, or pain with eye movement (symptoms similar to sinus problems, migraines, TMJ problems); neck ache and upper back pain due to a head tilt (similar to spinal misalignment symptoms).
Balance and Coordination Symptoms: Motion sickness, nausea, poor depth perception, unsteadiness while walking or drifting to one side while walking (“I’ve always been clumsy”), lack of coordination with symptoms being those seen in patients with MS, patients who have experienced a stroke, an inner ear disorder, or Meniere’s Disease.
Reading Symptoms: Difficulty with concentration (symptoms are similar to those experienced with ADHD), difficulty with reading and comprehension, skipping lines while reading, losing one’s place while reading, words running together while reading (symptoms similar to those seen with a learning disability).
Vision Symptoms: Blurred vision, double or overlapping vision, shadowed vision (symptoms similar to those seen in patients with MS), light sensitivity, difficulty with glare or reflection.
Psychological Symptoms: Feeling overwhelmed or anxious when in large contained spaces like malls or big box stores like Walmart, feeling overwhelmed or anxious in crowds or while driving (symptoms similar to those seen in patients with anxiety or agoraphobia).
If you have seen your primary care doctor or specialist and there still has been no cause found for your nausea and other symptoms, it could be BVD.
How Do You Get BVD?
BVD can be the result of nerve or eye muscle abnormality (a common condition many people are born with), or it can develop as a result of stroke, brain injury, concussion, or a similar neurological disorder.
How Do You Fix BVD?
BVD is treated by correcting the eye misalignment using our microprism lenses. These glasses bend light in a way that the images seen by your eyes are moved into the position they need to be in, resulting in realigned images. When the images seen by your two eyes are realigned, your brain can transform them into one, singular image. Your nausea and other uncomfortable symptoms caused by BVD are significantly reduced or eliminated.
In fact, the average patient will notice a 50% reduction of symptoms by the end of their first visit. Over the next several visits, our team at Vision Specialists of Michigan will fine-tune your lenses so that your nausea and other BVD symptoms can continue to improve and be eliminated.
Nausea in Children
Nausea not only affects adults with BVD but can affect children as well. When children regularly experience nausea, it can result in them missing school and therefore delaying their reading and learning, as well as possibly leading to a misdiagnosis of ADD or ADHD.
If your child has BVD, the symptoms will vary depending on their age.
How Is BVD Diagnosed?
To determine if your nausea is the result of Binocular Vision Dysfunction, we suggest you first see your primary care physician or specialist to rule out other causes. If no cause is found for the symptoms, our team at Vision Specialists of Michigan can help determine if BVD is the issue.
During your visit:
We ask you to fill out a specialized questionnaire designed to screen for those who might have BVD.
You will be asked to complete a detailed Health History form.
An eye exam is performed to determine the need for correction of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism (a common imperfection in the eye’s curvature).
A specialized exam is performed (NeuroVisual Evaluation) to determine if visual misalignment is present.
If diagnosed with BVD, you will be fitted with a trial version of your new prescription. Most people notice a significant improvement in their symptoms within just a few minutes of putting on the trial lenses.
You can expect to spend approximately 3 hours in our office during your visit.
Other Symptoms of BVD
Symptoms of BVD in Adults
There are several symptoms associated with BVD in adults, which typically include the below. Some individuals experience all of these symptoms, while others experience only a few, such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness. These symptoms are also very similar to those associated with vestibular migraines and vertigo.
Sensitivity to light
Difficulty with balance / unsteady walking
Pain in the neck
Frequent head tilt
Reading comprehension, difficulty reading and learning
Find out if your nausea and other symptoms are a result of BVD
Symptoms of BVD in Children
If your child has BVD, the symptoms will vary depending on their age.
For children ages 4 to 8-years-old, common behaviors and symptoms of Binocular Vision Dysfunction can include:
Poor handwriting (poor spacing, writing letters too big or small)
Playing with toys very close to their face
Sitting close to the TV
Difficulty identifying shapes, colors and numbers that are age-appropriate
Difficulty seeing the class board
Frequently bumping into objects
Difficulty catching balls
Stomach aches and headaches at school or away from home
Covering one eye to see
Anxiety in public places
Frequent squinting in order to see
Find out if your 4 to 8-year-old is experiencing nausea and other symptoms due to Binocular Vision Dysfunction
For children ages 9 to 13-years-old, common behaviors and symptoms of Binocular Vision Dysfunction can include:
Repeatedly bumping into things while walking
Having difficulty completing homework due to headaches and nausea
Repeatedly reading the same things over and over
Sensitivity to bright lights
Closing one eye to make it easier to see
Blurred vision when using the computer
Blurred vision or tired eyes when looking at the blackboard in class
Verbal skills that are ahead of reading skills
Find out if your 9 to 13-year-old is experiencing nausea and other symptoms due to Binocular Vision Dysfunction
Other Causes of Nausea
While BVD is a common condition causing nausea, it can also be misdiagnosed or caused by one of the following conditions:
Gastroparesis: This is a condition where food does not move smoothly through the intestines or digestive system. People suffering from gastroparesis may have problems with stomach pain, bloating, and nausea. However, when you are unable to find relief from your gastroparesis with traditional treatments, nausea may be due to a vision misalignment. Our specialized aligning lenses break the misalignment-realignment cycle, allowing your brain to stop sensing motion, and providing you with nausea relief.
Motion Sickness: Motion sickness happens when one of your three balance-sensing systems senses movement while the other two are not. The balance-sensing systems, which senses your position in space, include the inner ear, eyes, and the position-sensing nerves in your arms, legs, and head. The exact reason for motion sickness is not known; however, if common treatments are unable to provide you with nausea relief, Binocular Vision Dysfunction may be the cause. The misalignment/realignment cycle of the eyes is noticed by some patients as letters vibrating or shimmering. This “movement” signal from the visual system conflicts with the signal from the inner ear and position-sensing nerves, where no sensation of motion is noticed, causing your nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Our specialized aligning lenses will reduce or eliminate your motion sickness by eliminating the misalignment-realignment cycle that causes feelings of movement.
Difficulty Gaining Weight / Failure to Thrive: As children grow they are expected to get taller and to gain weight. Some children have difficulty doing this. They don’t feel like eating, and sometimes they feel nauseous. The exact reason for this problem is not known. If vision misalignment is causing the nausea, aligning lenses will reduce or eliminate their symptoms, allowing for weight gain and growth.
Cyclic Vomiting: This is a syndrome where the sufferer experiences chronic and recurrent attacks of severe vomiting, abdominal pain, and nausea. For many, the cause of cyclic vomiting episodes is unknown; however, having a subtle misalignment of your eyes can cause one to feel nauseous and dizzy which could lead to vomiting. Treatment with our specialized aligning lenses may lead to nausea relief.
If you’re suffering from nausea, find out if Binocular Vision Dysfunction is the cause.
Get Treatment for Your Nausea and Binocular Vision Dysfunction Now
For anyone suffering from nausea as a result of BVD, there is treatment. Our compassionate doctors at Vision Specialists of Michigan will complete a thorough NeuroVisual Examination to determine the extent of your vision misalignment (or your child’s) and prescribe you with the specialized aligning lenses. Every person can receive treatment for BVD, as long as they are old enough to wear the specialized aligning glasses (and be able to tell or show the doctor how they feel).