Driving, Dizziness & Vertical Heterophoria: When Driving Is Scary

Dizziness, lightheadedness, balance problems, anxiety, migraines – if these are symptoms you’re all-too-familiar with, you may suffer from a condition known as vertical heterophoria (VH), a binocular vision dysfunction caused by a misalignment of the eyes. This misalignment results in your vision being skewed slightly, with the image in one eye appearing slightly higher than that in the other. In response, the brain works to correct this misalignment, forcing the eye muscles to realign the eyes so that one clear image is formed. Unfortunately, in so doing, a lot of strain is put on the eye muscles, causing them to become overworked and fatigued. It’s at this point that the aforementioned symptoms begin to appear.

The Effects of Dizziness Caused by VH 

A frequent symptom experienced by those who suffer from VH is dizziness, particularly when driving or riding in a car. For those who experience dizziness while driving, life can become a nightmare. It’s hard to imagine anything more terrifying than to be hurtling down the highway or interstate and experience a wave of dizziness, especially if you have loved ones in the car with you.

Passing cars are especially problematic, and even stopping at a stop sign or stop light can be unnerving when the car feels like it’s moving backward, despite the brakes being engaged. People who experience dizziness when driving understandably suffer from anxiety as well, never knowing when the dizziness is going to strike again. In some cases, the stress caused by this extreme anxiety can even lead to debilitating panic attacks.

How VH Increases Driving Anxiety

Dizziness when driving is not the only VH symptom that can cause anxiety while in a moving vehicle. Other symptoms include:

  • Carsickness

  • Sensitivity to bright lights & glare, such as headlights, traffic lights, street lamps and signage

  • Disorientation

  • Blurred vision

  • Double vision

  • Problems with depth perception

  • The feeling that things in your peripheral vision are moving when they really aren’t

  • Dizziness when riding as a passenger, particularly in the back seat

Many people with VH live with their symptoms for years, not knowing what is causing them or how to treat them. Often, well-meaning practitioners treat VH patients for migraines or vertigo without realizing or addressing the core issue; traditional treatments won’t work well when the cause is actual vision misalignment, which explains why so many aren’t getting the relief they seek from the standard treatment approaches.

Get Your Life Back With Vision Specialists of Michigan

If you’re experiencing anxiety and dizziness related to driving, you may have vertical heterophoria. We encourage you to seek the care of Vision Specialists of Michigan, an experienced eye specialist in Bloomfield Hills, MI, and pioneers in treating BVD and VH. A comprehensive NeuroVisual evaluation will be performed, and if the diagnosis of VH is given, treatment with special aligning prismatic lenses can begin. Call the doctors at Vision Specialists of Michigan today at (248) 504-2900 to find out more about VH, how it’s treated and how we help our patients get their lives back.


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Posted in Dizziness / Lightheadedness and tagged , , .