Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Motion sickness and vision therapy - see sick syndrome

MSNBC recently did a story on adult onset motion sickness. One of the doctors interviewed for the article was optometrist, Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D., FCOVD, who treats motion sickness using vision therapy.

Here is an excerpt from the article that mentions one of Dr. Fortenbacher's patients:

Yet other hazards await adults. One often overlooked cause of persistent motion sickness may be a visual disorder -- also known as “see-sick syndrome,” says Dan Fortenbacher, O.D., who treats the disorder at his practice in St. Joseph, MI. In these cases, an eye problem such as decreased depth perception or muscle control sends miscues to our vestibular system, a part of the inner ear and brain responsible for keeping us in balance as we go about our lives.
In many cases, patients have had vision issues since childhood, but age-related changes make it harder to compensate, Fortenbacher says. It doesn’t take a car trip to set things off; patients may feel sick watching a movie, scanning the aisles while grocery shopping, even looking at stripes on a shirt.
Treatment for see-sick syndrome involves eye exercises and special lenses. For the rest of us whose motion sickness is not serious enough to require a doctor's intervention, avoiding bumpy seats, a pre-trip heavy meal and reading can ward off the occasional travel queasiness. And if you can, drive the car yourself because driving yourself significantly reduces motion sickness compared to if you were a passenger.

In our Vancouver optometry clinic we have seen some patients who became nauseous from things as common or minor as going shopping or looking at stripes on a shirt. These people definitely had vision problems but in their case the problems were caused by minor brain injuries they suffered in car accident.

But it does not take something as obvious as a car accident to cause brain related vision problems like this. Something as innocent and forgettable as a sports impact or a fall ( can cause a mild traumatic brain injury which can produce visual symptoms like motion sickness.

Sometimes impacts to the head happen in childhood and are never medically investigated and are quickly forgotten only to cause symptoms later leaving doctors and patients to wonder about their origin.

For those that like research studies, a recent study by researchers at the Centre for Eye Research, School of Optometry, Queensland University of Technology found that visual information was more important that vestibular stimulation (balance) in producing motion sickness symptoms.

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