What is Binocular Vision Dysfunction and What are its Symptoms?

Updated on November 25, 2019

We rely on our sight to live our lives. Indeed, it’s one of our body’s remarkable capabilities. But when we start to experience blurred vision, dizziness, and headaches, we begin to feel anxious. And this can feel like our entire world is falling down. These are signs that you’re experiencing problems with your eyes – they aren’t working together as a team to create a clear picture anymore. This condition is what we call BVD or Binocular Vision Dysfunction.

Once you know you have Binocular Vision Dysfunction, you’d probably be quick to look up how to treat it. But for you to do it, you must first know what exactly is BVD. What causes it? What are the symptoms? If you want to know more about BVD, this article is for you.

What is Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

Binocular vision is an awesome ability where, despite having two eyes, you can only see one picture. Our brain performs complex and intricate tasks that it can turn two separate pictures into just one clear picture. For this to happen, our eyes need to be perfectly aligned. People who have perfect binocular vision have eyes that work smoothly in tandem. Their eyes are perfectly in sync all the time, and this allows them to send a clear and focused image to their brain.

But what if our eyes don’t work as a team anymore? Binocular Vision Dysfunction or BVD occurs if our eyes do not work smoothly together and aren’t in perfect sync anymore. People with this condition struggle to see one clear picture, and this results in extreme discomfort. Double vision, dizziness, headaches, and difficulty in reading are among the discomforts caused by BVD.

Because people who suffer from Binocular Vision Dysfunction have eyes that aren’t in perfect sync, their eyes transmit two pictures that are in slightly different positions to the brain. In turn, the brain rejects the situation, and responds by forcing the eye-aligning muscles to solve the problem, trying to realign the eyes. However, this fix is only temporary . Misalignment occurs again, and the brain tries to realign them again. This becomes a never-ending cycle of image misalignment and realignment.

Because of this cycle, the brain begins to believe that things are moving. This, in turn, puts a great deal of strain on the muscles around the eyes. Eventually, the eyes begin to feel sore and tired, and can lead to many painful, unpleasant symptoms. Such symptoms may include facial pain and headaches. But what causes BVD?

What causes Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

Many people think that BVD is just a sinus issue, or assume that it’s just a normal migraine. However, it can develop as a result of a brain injury, stroke, or other similar neurological disorders. This can manifest at any time, and the symptoms develop around the age of 40.

Facial Asymmetry

Facial asymmetry is where one of the eyes is physically higher than the other eye. People who are born with facial asymmetry may start to develop BVD, as eye muscles get weaker as they age, and they become overworked.

People who suffer from BVD try to improve their vision, to reduce the symptoms, by tilting their heads. When they tilt their heads to the side, toward their shoulders, the images move down in one eye, and then up in the other. While doing this can help address the misalignment, it can also cause chronic neck pain.

What are the symptoms of Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

If you suffer from BVD, it would feel like there’s an endless list of possible symptoms. Some people may experience a few symptoms, while others experience more. Symptoms can include the following:

Reading symptoms

  • Fatigue with reading
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Difficulty with reading comprehension 
  • Skipping lines, or using a line guide
  • Letters shimmering or vibrating
  • Words running together

Pain symptoms

  • Pain with eye movements or eye pain
  • Headaches
  • Aching face or sinus pain

Binocular Vision symptoms

  • Blurred, overlapping, shadowed, or doubled vision
  • Difficulty maintaining eye contact during a conversation
  • Poor depth perception or difficulty with hand-eye coordination
  • Light sensitivity 
  • Difficulty with reflection or glare
  • Covering or closing one eye to ease visual tasks

Sleep symptoms

  • Difficulty with sleeping, unless the room is completely dark
  • Restless and fitful sleep

Inner ear symptoms 

  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Motion sickness
  • Unsteadiness with walking
  • Lack of coordination
  • Nausea
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty in walking down the grocery aisle

Driving symptoms 

  • Anxiety with driving
  • Trouble stopping on time due to difficulty estimating the distances

Anxiety symptoms

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Panic attacks
  • Agoraphobia
  • Feeling anxious or overwhelmed in crowds
  • Generalized anxiety

Routine Visual symptoms

  • Sore eyes and eye strain
  • Difficulty with night vision
  • Difficulty with close-up vision
  • Blurred vision, at near or far distances.

These are the symptoms you can have if you suffer from Binocular Vision Dysfunction. However, when you go to your doctor to complain about it, you’d most likely get the wrong diagnosis. It’s pretty common for people with BVD to be misdiagnosed with other conditions, and then later find out it’s BVD, after running careful tests. These conditions include:

  • Agarophobia
  • Anxiety or Panic disorders
  • BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo)
  • Cervical misalignment
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Migraines
  • MS (Multiple Sclerosis)
  • Persistent Post-Concussive symptoms
  • PPPD (Persistent Postural-Perceptual Dizziness)
  • Psychogenic dizziness or Chronic Subjective dizziness 
  • Reading and learning disabilities
  • Sinus problems
  • Stroke
  • TMJ disorders
  • Vestibular Migraine or MAV (Migraine Associated Vertigo)

How to treat your Binocular Vision Dysfunction

With these symptoms present, meeting your doctor may not at all help you. It’s better to consult a neurovisual specialist and get the treatment you need. A neurovisual professional will run detailed and thorough evaluations that are above and beyond regular eye examinations. These evaluations can detect BVD. After the evaluations, you’ll be sure that you will get the treatment you need for your eye alignment problem. Whether it’s far-vision or near-vision, you’ll be able to correct it using specialized realigning glasses.

If you know you have the symptoms but you’re uncertain if it’s Binocular Vision Dysfunction or not, check out Vision Specialists of Michigan, and take the test now. You’ll get the results after, and then a specialist will call you after 3 business days to discuss the treatment.

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