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Sensitivity To Light And Your Vision

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Sensitivity To Light And Your Vision

Experiencing sensitivity to light — a condition called photophobia — is a symptom of a multitude of conditions and disorders. In its mildest form, photophobia causes discomfort in the presence of bright light. More severe cases of photophobia can produce eye pain, headaches, nausea, and dizziness even in a dimly lit environment.

Those who are light-sensitive can experience discomfort from any source of light, whether natural or artificial. A photophobic individual may feel the need to blink frequently or close their eyes in bright indoor or outdoor environments.

In some cases, light sensitivity may be caused by a problem with the visual system. That’s where a neuro-optometrist can help. If you suspect you have photophobia or are experiencing eye discomfort in bright or dim settings, call The Neuro-Optometry Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry for a functional visual evaluation.

What Can Cause Photophobia?

light sensetive 500

Eye conditions and diseases that can trigger photophobia include:

  • Dry eye
  • Iritis or uveitis
  • Eye burns
  • Glaucoma
  • Corneal abrasion
  • Eye surgery
  • Blepharospasm
  • Keratitis
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Retinal damage
  • Cataracts
  • Dilated pupils

Light sensitivity can also accompany:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Brain injury and concussions
  • Meningitis
  • The use of certain drugs
  • Bacterial and viral infections

The Visual System and Photophobia

All cases of photophobia should be addressed by an eye care professional to rule out an underlying inflammatory condition, infection, or concussion. If that has been done yet symptoms persist, there could be a problem with visual functioning — the way the eyes and visual system function together.

If the connection between the eye’s light-detecting cells and the optical nerve becomes disrupted, it can result in light sensitivity.

Furthermore, if the eyes don’t work in unison with each other or don’t communicate with the brain efficiently, this could strain the visual system and lead to photophobia.

Post-concussion photophobia can stem from the dysfunctional operation of 1 or more of the 4 regions of the brain.

  1. The thalamus filters all visual information that enters the brain. If the brain isn’t sending enough oxygen to the thalamus, which can occur after a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the thalamus may not perform efficiently, causing the brain to be overwhelmed by an influx of visual stimuli — such as bright light.
  2. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulates things like breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure, and more. If the ANS becomes dysregulated, it can cause the pupils to overly dilate, letting in too much light for the visual system to process.
  3. A malfunctioning vestibular system can also cause photophobia. This system consists of the inner ear, eyes, and sensory detectors in our limbs to regulate balance and motion. If there is a discrepancy between either of those areas, the brain may compensate by increasing sensitivity in one of the areas — such as the eyes.
  4. The superior colliculus in the midbrain manages visual mapping as well as coordination with other senses. An imbalance in this area can cause vision and other senses to become hypersensitized.

How a Neuro-Optometrist Can Help

A functional visual evaluation with Dr. Marianne Hopkins will determine if a problem with the visual system is causing or contributing to your photophobia.

If visual dysfunction is detected, we may recommend a personalized neuro-optometric rehabilitation program to treat the underlying cause of your symptoms. This specialized form of therapy involves the use of various filters and prisms, as well as visual exercises to strengthen the eye-brain connection.

If you or a loved one suffers from photophobia, call The Neuro-Optometry Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry to schedule a functional visual evaluation and start your journey towards healing.

Our practice serves patients from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, Welland , and St. Catharine, Ontario and surrounding communities.

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Headaches And Migraines

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Common Headaches And Migraines | How A Neuro-Optometrist Can Help

Pinpointing the cause of a headache can be difficult because headaches are a symptom of a multitude of conditions, rather than a disease itself. What many don’t know is that headaches can actually be rooted in visual dysfunction, especially following a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or stroke. And while migraines are a more severe form of headache, they too can be related to visual dysfunction. If you suffer from sporadic headaches or migraines, make an appointment with Dr. Marianne Hopkins to rule out visual dysfunction as the cause or contributing factor.

Common Headaches Vs. Migraines: What’s The Difference?

What Is a Headache?

Those unpleasant pains in your head that feel like achy pressure are headaches. The pain can range from mild to severe, usually affecting both sides of your head. Some target areas include the temples, forehead, and upper neck. A headache can last anywhere from 10 minutes to several days.

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache, and patients say they feel like their forehead is being forcefully squeezed by a tight band. Eye pain commonly accompanies a tension headache. While the cause of tension headaches is unknown, visual misalignment can produce identical symptoms to a tension headache, as will be discussed below.

What Is a Migraine?

A migraine is a more intense form of headache, and its symptoms tend to be more debilitating and frequent than common headaches. Migraines also tend to target one side of the face or head, and pain can last for hours or days. For some patients, a migraine starts with the presence of an aura, which can include visual disturbances such as flashing lights or blind spots. During a migraine, one may find it difficult to speak or think clearly. Furthermore, migraines can produce a tingling sensation or numbness in the limbs or extremities. Migraines are often accompanied by vomiting, nausea, and heightened sensitivity to light and sound.

woman with headacheHow Does Visual Dysfunction Impact Headaches and Migraines?

There are several types of visual deficiencies that can lead to headaches or migraines. One of the most common types is binocular visual disorder. A binocular vision problem refers to a misalignment of the eyes and can result from a stroke or TBI. When the eyes struggle to function together, they may become strained and overworked in an effort to correct the problem. This high amount of ocular stress can produce painful physical symptoms that can sometimes be mistaken for other conditions. For example, a headache that is rooted in visual misalignment is often mistaken for a sinus headache.

Convergence insufficiency and accommodative dysfunction are both well-studied forms of binocular dysfunction and can cause or exacerbate symptoms of both common headaches and migraines.

How Can I Tell If My Headache Is Vision-Related?

The only way to properly determine whether vision is at the root of a common headache or migraine is to have Dr. Marianne Hopkins assess your condition with a complete functional vision evaluation. Patients who suffer from headaches and seek our treatment are usually experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Stabbing or dull pain around the eyes
  • Headache that impairs your ability to perform daily tasks or remember things
  • Throbbing pain in the head or around the eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Frontal headache (“brow ache”)

Whether you experience one or more of the above symptoms regularly or occasionally, know that treatment is available.

We Can Treat Your Headaches

Standard headache treatments aren’t going to be effective if the cause of the symptoms is visual misalignment. Our job is to treat the misalignment with neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy, resulting in long-term headache relief.

By assessing your vision with a functional vision evaluation, we can narrow down the cause of the headaches and determine if vision could be amplifying your pain, even if it isn’t directly causing it. Once the diagnosis is confirmed and a visual problem is detected, Dr. Marianne Hopkins will create a custom neuro-optometric rehabilitation program to strengthen your visual system and correct the problem. It is also important to refer to your complete medical history during the evaluation so that we can offer the best advice on how to holistically approach the situation in the way that best suits your lifestyle and health, taking all factors into account.

Start your journey to recovery and call The Neuro-Optometry Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry to schedule your appointment today.

Our practice serves patients from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, Welland , and St. Catharine, Ontario and surrounding communities.

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Double Vision hero

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Double Vision

When a person sees two separate or overlapping images of the same object, they are experiencing diplopia — or double vision.

Seeing double can turn small tasks into large ones. Ordinary activities such as reaching for a door knob or a glass of water can be challenging. Those with diplopia often have poor depth perception, which disrupts the ability to read, drive and play sports.

If you or someone close to you is experiencing double vision, Dr. Marianne Hopkins can prescribe a fully personalized neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy program.

Symptoms of Diplopia

Common symptoms of double vision include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Pain around the eyes, temples, or eyebrows
  • Painful eye movements
  • Noticeable eye misalignment
  • Eye weakness
  • Drooping eyelids

There are three types of diplopia:

  • Horizontal diplopia: seeing two images that are separated horizontally
  • Vertical diplopia: seeing two images where one is higher than the other
  • Monocular diplopia: double vision that persists in only one eye

Double vision is usually a symptom of other health issues, and sometimes can indicate the need for immediate medical attention. If you experience diplopia, contact The Neuro-Optometry Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry for a prompt appointment.

What Causes Double Vision?

Temporary diplopia can be due to a lack of sleep or excessive alcohol consumption and is generally no cause for concern. Long-lasting or recurring double vision can be caused by several eye conditions, such as keratoconus, cataracts, or dry eye.

Most often, monocular diplopia is caused by these conditions.

  • Head injury, such as a stroke, a concussion, brain swelling, a brain tumor, or brain aneurysm
  • Refractive surgery, such as LASIK
  • Cranial nerve palsies
  • Strabismus, or eye misalignment

How is Double Vision Treated?

Diplopia treatments can include surgery, neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy, prescription prism glasses, and medication.

Why Choose a Neuro-Optometrist?

man standing near body of waterA neuro-optometrist diagnoses and treats neurological conditions that impact the functioning of the visual system.

The first step is to have a complete functional visual evaluation to determine which visual skills are lacking. After the initial diagnosis, Dr. Marianne Hopkins will recommend the most suitable treatment. For diplopia patients, a fully personalized neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy program is most often prescribed. This specialized form of vision therapy can help you regain lost visual skills or develop new ones, and trains the eyes to work in unison with the brain. The result: long-lasting clear and unified vision.

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy for double vision can effectively treat the underlying neurological condition using prisms, therapeutic lenses, filters, and patching. The use of prisms is often prescribed to patients with diplopia, as the prism bends the light to match the displacement of the affected eye, allowing the patient to see a single image.

A functional visual evaluation with Dr. Marianne Hopkins is especially crucial for patients who’ve sustained a head injury — however mild — as visual symptoms may result from the trauma.

Additionally, if you suspect your child has diplopia or any other visual problem, it’s best to bring them in for a functional vision assessment without delay, as children often lack the verbal skills needed to express what they’re seeing. A child experiencing double vision may still be able to identify letters and shapes, making it difficult for parents and teachers to detect a problem.

If you or a loved one is suffering from diplopia, don’t hesitate to call The Neuro-Optometry Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry to schedule your appointment today.

Our practice serves patients from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, Welland , and St. Catharine, Ontario and surrounding communities.

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Dizziness and Balance Problems

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Dizziness and Balance Problems Related to Vision

Maintaining balance is a complex process that is controlled by three different systems in the body:

  • The vestibular system is mainly located in the inner ear and is responsible for providing the brain with information about head position, spatial orientation, and motion
  • The visual system provides input from your eyes to your brain, and is the dominant system providing cues for maintaining balance and preventing dizziness
  • Proprioceptors in the legs and feet provide the body with a stable platform as well as information on movement and motion

How Can Impaired Vision Cause Dizziness and A Balance Disorder?

If you’ve experienced sea or motion sickness, the common advice is to close your eyes. Doing this removes the impact of the visual system, and can alleviate nausea and dizziness. Any disruption in the eye-brain connection or the visual system can result in dizziness and balance problems.

Dizziness and Vision

When the visual system is negatively impacted, such as after a concussion, stroke or other traumatic brain injuries (TBI), dizziness can occur.

The most common causes of vision-related dizziness include:

  • TBI
  • Eyestrain
  • Incorrect eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions
  • Binocular vision disorder (eye misalignment)

dizziness balance disorders

In many cases, dizziness is caused by binocular vision problems. When the eyes are misaligned, they receive conflicting signals from the brain and can deviate from their correct position. The eyes therefore strain to put the images back together for a unified and clear view of their surroundings. The extra stress on the eye muscles can cause them to quiver, which can lead to light-headedness or dizziness.

Eye misalignment that causes dizziness can be so slight that it is often overlooked in routine eye exams. For this reason, it is vital for anyone who is suffering from dizziness or balance problems to have a complete functional visual assessment with Dr. Marianne Hopkins to rule out visual dysfunction as a cause of the symptoms.

Balance Problems and Vision

People suffering from a balance disorder can be in a still position but feel as if they’re moving. Additionally, they may find it difficult to walk straight, especially after being in a sitting or reclining position and suddenly standing up.

Vision problems can make it challenging to maintain proper balance. When someone has troubled vision and the eye muscles work harder to compensate for the decreased visual clarity, eyestrain, headaches, and balance disorders can occur.

The most common causes of vision-related balance problems include:

  • Blurry or double vision
  • Binocular Vision Dysfunction (eye teaming)
  • Concussion
  • Hemianopsia (blindness in one half of the visual field)
  • Nystagmus (involuntary and repetitive eye movements)
  • Spatial Disorientation
  • Vertigo
  • Visual Midline Shift Syndrome

Treatment for Vision-Related Dizziness and Balance Problems

Dizziness and balance problems often go hand in hand, and if a visual problem is at the root, a neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapist can offer help.

What Is Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Therapy?

At The Neuro-Optometry Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry, we provide neuro-optometric rehabilitation, which is a personalized program of weekly therapy sessions to improve, refine, or develop new or lost visual skills. This specialized treatment involves various techniques and exercises that improve your visual perception and processing, thereby strengthening the eye-brain connection.

Before the neuro-optometric rehabilitation program begins, you’ll undergo a comprehensive eye exam to assess visual skills and determine whether visual dysfunction is present. Aside from visual function and overall eye health, Dr. Marianne Hopkins will also check for eye coordination, blurry or double vision, and any other ocular condition that could be causing symptoms.

Once the cause of the condition is identified, we will recommend a customized treatment plan and treat it. In many cases, vestibular therapy will also be recommended to complement the visual treatment. Vestibular therapy is a special type of physical therapy aimed at restoring correct balance to provide relief for symptoms of dizziness.

When Should You Seek Treatment?

It’s important to be evaluated by a neuro-optometrist as early as possible following even a minor TBI. The sooner treatment begins, the greater the likelihood of success. That said, there is still hope for patients who suffer from symptoms caused by a head injury that occurred months or even years prior; we can still assess your situation and develop a course of treatment to help you recover now.

How Long Does Treatment Take?

No two patients are alike — if you’ve seen one head injury, you’ve seen one head injury. Each person experiences a unique degree of dizziness, balance issues, or vision problems. Some patients may require just a few weeks of treatment, while others may require something more long-term. The good news is that the improvements achieved by neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy are generally long-lasting.

How We Can Help

If you or a loved one is experiencing any symptoms of dizziness or feeling off-balance, contact The Neuro-Optometry Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry for a consultation. Even if you’ve been told that your symptoms are stress-related, seasonal, or will fade on their own, having a functional visual evaluation can help rule out vision as being the root cause or contributing factor to your symptoms.

It’s also important to note that not every optometrist is trained in this specialized field. Only a neuro-optometrist should assess and treat a post-TBI patient with neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy. We has the expertise and latest technology to provide you with the top-level care you deserve.

Our practice serves patients from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, Welland , and St. Catharine, Ontario and surrounding communities.
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Find Out If Neuro-Optometry Can Help You! Call Our Offices

Vision Related Motion Sickness

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Vision-Related Motion Sickness

Motion sickness refers to that woozy sensation one gets when traveling by car, boat, plane, on roller coasters and ferris wheels. Motion sickness and visual vertigo (dizziness and unsteadiness brought on by visual triggers) can produce similar symptoms, and are sometimes mistaken for one another. Both conditions can be due to issues in your visual system, so if you find yourself becoming disoriented, dizzy, or nauseous, it may be time to visit a neuro-optometrist.

Those who suffer from motion sickness often find it difficult or impossible to drive, play sports, go on amusement park rides, or be in an environment with fast or moderate motion. Engaging in these activities or being in visually-busy settings can produce uncomfortable — even debilitating — symptoms.

Fortunately, a neuro-optometrist can offer help. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of motion sickness, contact The Neuro-Optometry Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry to schedule a functional visual evaluation.

Exhausted tired woman with closed eyes touching head

What is Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness occurs when the body’s motion receptors send conflicting messages to the brain. For instance, some people experience nausea or other uncomfortable symptoms when reading from a book (or screen) while riding in a moving vehicle. This is because the eyes are focused on a still object — the words on a page — while the motion receptors in the inner ear sense motion. These conflicting messages are what contribute to the feeling of motion sickness.

How Can Vision Cause Motion Sickness Symptoms?

The visual input that comes from the eyes helps the brain understand where you are in relation to your surroundings. Other sensory information about the body’s position and stability come from receptors in the inner ear (vestibular sensors) as well as receptors in the legs and feet that inform the brain about any body movements and where they are located in relation to the rest of the body. The visual system, along with the other sensory receptors, all work together to keep you feeling balanced and stable.

Someone with visual dysfunction may experience motion sickness due to the inaccurate visual information being processed by the brain. This mismatch of visual input with vestibular cues causes you to experience vision-related motion sickness.

One visual condition that commonly causes motion sickness symptoms is binocular vision disorder (BVD). In BVD, the eyes are misaligned and each eye sends a separate image to the brain. To compensate for the conflicting visual messages, the brain works very hard to create a unified image and sometimes forces the eyes into correct alignment. This process can cause several symptoms, including those of motion sickness.

Symptoms of Vision-Related Motion Sickness

It’s common to experience any of the following symptoms of vision-relation motion sickness:

  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Trouble maintaining balance

How Our Doctors Treat Vision-Related Motion Sickness

At The Neuro-Optometry Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry, we treat the problem at its source — the brain and its connection to the visual system. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy is a process by which the brain is “rewired” to work in unison with the eyes. This method is highly effective in treating motion sickness if the problem is a dysfunction in the visual system.

At the initial consultation, Dr. Marianne Hopkins will thoroughly evaluate your eyes and various visual skills to determine whether your visual system is contributing to your motion sickness. If a problem with visual function or processing is detected, Dr. Marianne Hopkins may prescribe neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy is a highly personalized program of exercises that develop the communication between the brain and the eyes. The program may also use several therapeutic tools, such as specialized lenses and prisms, to aid in the developmental process. Some practices offer only prism lenses as a treatment for motion sickness or visual vertigo. While this can lessen symptoms in the short term, prism lenses alone don’t offer lasting relief since the condition itself isn’t corrected. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation is unique in that it can actually reverse the cause of the condition, offering long-lasting relief.

If you or a loved one suffers from motion sickness, speak with Dr. Marianne Hopkins about how we can help.

Our practice serves patients from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, Welland , and St. Catharine, Ontario and surrounding communities.

References

Request A Neuro-Optometry Appointment Today
Find Out If Neuro-Optometry Can Help You! Call Our Offices