Skip to main content
Screenshot 2023 11 07 at 21.40.21
Home » Blog » Visual Migraines and Vertigo

Visual Migraines and Vertigo

Suffering from vertigo, feeling dizzy, or have a feeling of unsteadiness? Does it get worse with visual stimulus like grocery stores, busy places, flashing lights, patterns, blinds, or watching motion?  It could be related to how your eyes and brain work together.  In many of these cases, but not always, people may also experience migraines with aura or visual/ocular migraines.

70% of the brain’s incoming sensory information is visual and more of your brain is dedicated to processing vision than any other sense.  This means that you depend on accurate visual processing to make sense of where things are around you.  This includes using your vision to make sense of where you are in space, and where things are around you.  This is one of the reasons why people feel sea-sick, when their vision is not matching their other senses.  Many people with vertigo or dizziness describe it as though they feel like they are walking on water, or on a boat (unsteady).

Vision is your brains dominant sense and when your vision doesn’t match with other systems your brain will often choose to pay attention to vision.  This can cause problems if your brain can’t process vision properly.  This is where it can tie into ocular or visual migraines.

Visual migraines, or Ocular Migraines are often caused by the brain having trouble processing visual information.  This is why they can be brought on by things like fluorescent lights, busy stores, computer time, reading, flickering lights or more.  When treated, visual migraines will reduce in frequency.  Treatment for visual migraines often involves a special glasses prescription, as well as vision therapy to re-train how the eyes and the brain work together.

Visual migraines and vertigo are often related because each can be caused by problems with how the eyes and the brain work together.  If the brain has trouble processing vision, then it can lead to visual migraines, vertigo, dizziness, and more.  The easy way to tell if vision is part of the problem is to pay attention to any visual triggers.  Do fluorescent lights, computer screens, busy places, watching moving objects, high contrast patterns, or other visual stimulus cause symptoms?  If so, it’s almost certain vision is part of the problem.  You can also Children Vision Assessmentto see if you’re affected.

If you suffer from vertigo, visual migraines, or even vestibular migraines, it’s important to be assessed by a neuro-optometrist.  You need to have your neuro-optometrist look at how your eyes and your brain are working together.  This includes visual-vestibular mismatch, eye tracking problems, convergence problems, and more.  Many other neuro or eye examinations may not test these areas, so your problem could potentially be overlooked.  If the above are addressed, they should be able to offer treatment in the form of specific exercises to re-calibrate and rehabilitate the function, as well as specialty glasses that will hugely help the process.  The rehabilitation process can take a lot of time and effort, but if properly diagnosed and treated, it can often fully treat the vertigo, dizziness, and visual migraines.