Intro to Oscillopsia: The Balance Disorder of the Eyes
- By Dizzy & Vertigo Institute
- April 30, 2022
Balance disorders do not always cause symptoms of vertigo or dizziness, where the world feels as though it is spinning even though it isn’t. In some cases, a balance disorder can manifest solely in our vision. Oscillopsia is one of these balance disorders where its symptoms are localized to our eyes and often feel like we have jumpy, wobbly, or lagging vision.
What is Oscillopsia?
Like vertigo and dizziness, oscillopsia is an illusion of an unstable visual world. It affects how our eyes perceive the world before us. And while you can call the symptoms an illusion, their impact on dizzy patients is real.
More specifically, Oscillopsia is a vision problem in which objects appear to jump, jiggle, or vibrate when they’re actually still. Because our vision plays a major role in our balance system, Oscillopsia brings with it many common symptoms seen in other vestibular disorders, such as BPPV, Visually-Induced Dizziness, and Meniere’s Disease.
Symptoms of Oscillopsia include:
- jumping, jittery, wobbly, or shimmering vision
- blurred or fuzzy vision
- trouble focusing
- double vision
Sometimes these symptoms are prompted by head or body movements, while sometimes they can appear even when we’re still. Overall, Oscillopsia is associated with poor visual acuity. In other words, it’s a condition that truly impacts how we see and thus how we align ourselves and balance.
While the cause of Oscillopsia is still being researched, we believe that it is closely related to having an impaired Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex (VOR). As we addressed in the article on VOR, this reflex is critical to coordinating movements between our head and eyes to ensure both have a consensus of proper balance. Therefore, it makes sense that an impaired VOR for a prolonged time could create more lasting vision problems such as Oscillopsia.
The treatment for Oscillopsia has a lot of overlap with our treatment for vestibular disorders. Overall, our goal is to promote compensation. Basically, we know that there is a dysfunction in your vestibular system and through custom therapies, we can promote your brain’s ability to compensate for this dysfunction and find a workaround.
Visual compensation is a major part of vestibular rehabilitation therapy. Through gaze stabilization and habituation exercises, we train your Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex in the face of visual triggers that might normally cause you to get dizzy. But through these controlled therapies, we can strengthen your brain’s ability to compensate for (or make sense of) this visual stimulus.
Oscillopsia treatment may include medications and other eye therapies recommended by your physician to resolve the issues. However, a large number of Oscillopsia patients may find relief concurrently from a Vestibular Clinic such as the Dizzy & Vertigo Institute of Los Angeles.
It’s our job as Vestibular Specialists to make sense of your symptoms and ultimately determine what’s causing your discomfort. We’ve seen it all when it comes to balance issues.
So if you or someone you know is suffering from vertigo, dizziness, or maybe what you think is Oscillopsia, then please don’t hesitate to reach out to our care team.
You can call us at (310) 683-4679 or by filling in our contact form here.
We hope to hear from you soon!