Our eyes are the windows to our world and when they are not working efficiently, it can very much impact the way in which we not only see, but live. Aside from blurred vision (often associated with far or nearsightedness), there are a wide range of eye-related issues one could experience. Vertical heterophoria (VH) is a type of binocular vision disorder that can present at any time in one's life. While some may be born with it, VH can be triggered by an illness, accident, or aging. Others may experience VH after suffering damage to the eye muscle or nerves from a traumatic brain injury or post-concussive syndrome. Fortunately, VH can be treated with the help of a specialized medical professional.
Vertical heterophoria refers to a misalignment of the eyes in the vertical direction.
A type of binocular vision dysfunction, VH prohibits the eyes from working together properly in this specific direction. Although it may seem like a small imperfection—which makes it difficult to identify during routine eye examines—the effects of vertical heterophoria can be significant.
In fact, several symptoms of VH don’t seem to be connected to the eyes at all. As Dr. Cheryl Berger Israeloff, doctor of optometry at Garden City, N.Y.-based Neuro Visual Center of New York explains, some of the signs of VH are “just very odd symptoms, and it might not be something that someone attributes to their eyes.”
Dr. Israeloff refers to a video featured on the Northport Wellness Center's website: an individual with vertical heterophoria experiences headaches underneath their eyes. This may lead to some healthcare professionals to believe he or she is suffering from a sinus condition, rather than exhibiting a symptom of VH.
Other symptoms of VH may include:
- Headaches (i.e., above the brow or temples)
- Dizziness, or Feeling “Off-Balance”
- Neck Strain
- Difficulty Learning/Concentrating
- Double Vision
- Anxiety in Open Spaces or While Driving
- Visual Vertigo
- Poor Depth Perception
Vertical heterophoria can be treated with customized aligning eyeglasses.
A trained eye doctor specializing in treating patients with VH can diagnose the condition and its severity. This evaluation is extremely thorough, and can take up to two hours to complete, as there are various tests the patient must undergo. Although this takes longer than a routine eye exam, the doctor will know exactly what the problem is by the end of the assessment. Getting these results the same day enables the doctor to begin treatment immediately.
To treat VH, the doctor will customize special eyeglasses used just for individuals with binocular vision dysfunction. These include prismatic lenses that help correct the misalignment by moving the images to their correct positions. This enables the eyes to work together, without straining.
While many patients notice an improvement right away, others may need some time to adjust. Either way, symptoms tend to subside, or disappear completely after wearing these new eyeglasses, which “look like a regular pair of glasses” in most cases, Dr. Israeloff says. Contact lenses may also be an option.
If you or a loved one are suffering from vertical heterophoria, treatment is available.
Learn how Neuro Visual Therapy could assist you in managing vertical heterophoria so that you may experience a greater quality of life.