Scientific Study

Vision & Hearing

Your Eyes and Ears Work Together

Many vestibular disorders can cause hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). In addition, vision plays a large role in helping you maintain your balance. Learning more about how these systems work together can help you put together the pieces of your vestibular puzzle.

The Connection Between Hearing and Balance

To maintain balance and navigate space in our physical world, we must organize and integrate information from the visual (eyes), proprioceptive (information perceived through our muscles and joints to tell us where we are in space) and vestibular (inner ears sensing motion, equilibrium and spatial awareness) systems. Dizziness and disequilibrium are often the result of a vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) dysfunction (a reflex which coordinates eye and head movement) and an unstable binocular (how well the eyes work together) system.

Vision Challenges with Vestibular Disorders

A common complaint for people with vestibular disorders is that they have difficulty with their vision. Visual issues may trigger or exacerbate vestibular symptoms. It is recommended that patients consult with an optometrist who specializes in Neuro-optometric Rehabilitation.

Binocular Vision Correction

Binocular vision dysfunction encompasses a group of conditions where the two eyes have difficulty working together as a team, resulting in a vertical or horizontal (or both) misalignment between the line of sight of one eye with the other eye. Symptoms may include dizziness and other vestibular symptoms, headache, neck ache, anxiety, and difficulty reading. Treatment includes specialized aligning lenses.

Postoperative Issues Following Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery can cause a dramatic change in the way a person visually experiences their world, and most of the time the effect is positive. However, if the brain is used to seeing the world from a certain perspective, and that perspective has suddenly been shifted, the disruption in the visual system can in turn cause sensory incoherence with the visual-vestibular connection.

Computer Monitors and Digital Televisions

Visual sensitivity from vestibular disorders can be exaggerated when a person uses a computer monitor or watches television. Certain types of displays can be more problematic than others.

Tinnitus - Ringing in the Ears

Tinnitus is abnormal noise perceived in one or both ears or in the head. Tinnitus (pronounced either “TIN-uh-tus” or “tin-NY-tus”) may be intermittent, or it might appear as a constant or continuous sound. It can be experienced as a ringing, hissing, whistling, buzzing, or clicking sound and can vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal. Learn more about tinnitus causes and related factors, diagnosis and treatment options, and tips for prevention and reducing its severity.

Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis is the perception of unusual auditory sensitivity to some environmental noises or tones. The effects of hyperacusis can range from a mild sense of unease to a complete loss of balance or upright posture with severe ear pain.

Hearing Aids

Many vestibular patients experience hearing loss, which can impact their ability to communicate successfully.  Hearing loss can also affect balance. Untreated, hearing loss can lead to social withdrawal, loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Hearing loss is also strongly linked to tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Several studies have described an association between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Hearing aids are an important tool that can help individuals with hearing loss reconnect with the world around them.