VISUAL VERTIGO -- Outline
Timothy C. Hain, MD•Page last modified:
February 18, 2022
This page is an attempt to think about visual vertigo using a structured way. It may not be very useful for patients, and we suggest that instead they look at the overview page about visual vertigo.
As is the case for most physiological systems, there are three general classes of disturbance so we have 3 types of visual vertigo -- sensory, central, and motor. If you want to jump to the "chase", most people end up with with symptoms attributed to one of four entities: Visual dependence (i.e. a vestibular issue), an ocular disturbance (for example, post cataract surgery), migraine associated vertigo, or a psychogenic cause (anxiety or PPPD).
- In sensory visual vertigo, the eyes are still but there is an inappropriate signal, or lack of a signal coming from the eyes.
- Tilting of one eye -- these sorts of problems can be detected with tests such as the Lancaster red/green test or retinal photography and similar methodology
- with respect to the other eye
- 4th nerve palsy (which can cause torsional diplopia)
- Oculomotor nerve or nucleus lesions
- Ocular muscle weakness or restrictions
- With respect to other sensors of vertical
- Sensory disturbance of the eye, usually between the eyes.
- Post-cataract surgery -- one eye can see world with one lens, other has different lens.
- "mono-vision" -- one eye for near, another for far. Size of world depends on eye being used.
- Astigmatism -- size of world may depend on position of eye with respect to glasses.
- Progressive lenses -- size of world may depend on position of eye with respect to glasses.
- Visual loss such as in retinitis pigmentosa or near blindness
- In central visual vertigo, the inappropriate signal is from the brain.
- Oversensitivity to visual stimuli, such as in migraine associated vertigo (mav) or visual dependence. This is the main one.
- Some patients have "visual snow", which is due to hypersensitivity of their visual cortex.
- Seizure as in epileptic vertigo
- inversion illusions (mainly migraine again).
- Abnormal motion processing, such as palinopsia
- Halpern's syndrome -- unsteadiness based on viewing with one eye. This is of questionable significance.
- Posterior cortical atrophy -- mysterious disorder related to Alzheimer's disease with shrinkage of back part of brain.
- Anxiety can also cause upweighting of visual motion signals and trigger visual vertigo.
- PPPD (persistent postural perceptive dizziness) combines visual sensitivity with lack of another diagnosis.
- We are not entirely sure what causes visual vertigo post-concussion, but it must belong here as well.
- In motor visual vertigo, the eyes are moving, causing apparent movement of the world.
- Nystagmus syndromes such as
See this page for references about visual vertigo.