Chronic migraines are difficult to live with, especially when they get in the way of your productivity and enjoyment of life. But what many don’t know is that migraines can sometimes be linked to binocular vision dysfunction (BVD).
Below, we explore some common causes of migraines and how binocular vision dysfunction may play a role.
Migraines: Symptoms and Causes
A migraine is a neurological condition that can present with a host of symptoms, including:
- Chronic and intense headaches, usually pulsing or throbbing
- Light and sound sensitivity
- Vomiting and nausea
- Sweating or chills
- Blurred vision or temporary vision loss
- Loss of appetite
The frequency and intensity of migraine symptoms vary from person to person, but the main symptom is usually intense pain in at least one part of the head. Some people have migraines with aura (sensory, motor and speech disturbances).
While the exact cause of migraines is unknown, there are several contributing factors. Some common causes and triggers of migraines include:
- Genetic predisposition
- An imbalance in brain chemistry
- Sensory stimuli, like flashes of light or strong odors
- Certain medications
- Certain foods
- Excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Binocular vision dysfunction
What Is Binocular Vision Dysfunction?
Binocular vision dysfunction (BVD) is a horizontal or vertical misalignment of the eyes. This misalignment makes it difficult or even impossible for the eyes to work together as a team. When each eye sends a slightly different image to the brain, the brain and eyes struggle to unite them into one clear, unified image.
People with BVD may experience a wide range of physical, visual or emotional symptoms. Because BVD shares many symptoms with other conditions, it is often overlooked or mistaken for other causes.
The migraines, neck pain, dizziness, nausea and anxiety that many people with BVD experience can make it harder to carry out daily tasks like driving, reading and concentrating in school or at work.
How Can BVD Cause Migraines?
To compensate for the eyes’ incorrect positioning, the muscles in and around the eyes overexert themselves in order to reposition the eyes. In other words, the pain arising from a BVD-related migraine is caused by strained eye muscles.
This is why adults or children who experience migraines on a regular or occasional basis should have their vision thoroughly evaluated to rule out BVD.
How is BVD Treated?
Patients diagnosed with BVD typically experience massive relief when wearing prism glasses. These specialized glasses contain microprisms in the lenses that refocus light in a way that bypasses the eye’s misalignment. In many cases, patients experience immediate relief upon first wearing prism glasses.
Whether you’re living with migraines or experiencing other visual symptoms, a functional vision evaluation can diagnose underlying visual dysfunction and lead to appropriate treatment.
serves patients from Mascoutah, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Edwardsville, Illinois and surrounding communities.
- A: BVD may cause or contribute to symptoms that mimic conditions like anxiety, agoraphobia, ADHD, reading and learning disabilities, spinal or neck misalignment, chronic fatigue syndrome, temporomandibular joint disorders and Meniere’s disease. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, visit your optometrist to rule out BVD.
- A: BVD is thought to affect 1-8% of the population, although more research is needed in the field. Because BVD may be confused with other conditions, it makes accurate diagnosing more difficult.