Have you ever found yourself tilting your head when reading, watching television or driving? Do you suffer from tightness in your neck when you’ve spent a period of time using a computer or concentrating on a visual task? If you can answer either of these questions with a ‘yes’, you could potentially by suffering from neck tension caused by BVD.
Binocular vision dysfunction, or BVD for short, is a condition characterized by a very subtle misalignment of the eyes. Even the smallest vertical misalignment of the eyes causes the images that are projected onto the retina of each eye to be on slightly different levels. This may not sound serious, but what it actually means is that instead of one clear image, our brain actually sees two. Nevertheless, chances are you won’t actually realize that you are affected, and this is because our brain automatically tries to correct the misalignment. It may not sound serious, but the effects of this continual effort can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms. One of these is neck tension.
Patients who have binocular vision dysfunction tend to naturally do a number of things to help compensate for their misalignment. One of these is tilting their head towards one of their shoulders. Doing so can improve the quality and clarity of their vision, but it can also lead to chronic neck pain, particularly if it becomes a habit. This is because a persistent head tilt can place strain on the neck and upper back, throwing the spine slightly out of alignment and even causing further problems with back and shoulder pain.
Neck tension can cause a range of symptoms, including:
Problems or pain turning your head in certain directions
Pain that gets worse when your neck is in certain positions
Difficulty sleeping due to neck pain
These symptoms are usually accompanied by others that are typical of patients with BVD, including:
When neck tension is being caused by BVD, it’s crucial that you speak to your eye doctor rather than a chiropractor or doctor about treatment. Pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs and treatments like massage and chiropractic adjustments can help to relieve the tension in your neck – but the effects will be temporary as they will only treat the symptom and not the underlying cause.
Microprism correction is one of the most effective treatments for neck tension that is caused by having BVD. This treatment involves small amounts of prism glass being placed into the lenses of ordinary prescription glasses. This prism has been shown to help move the eyes back into the correct alignment, enabling them to work properly together, reducing, and eliminating the symptoms of BVD. The prism can also help with double vision by aligning the two images into one, reducing the need for your eyes and brain to strain to do this itself.
If you have been suffering from neck tension and you have some of the other symptoms of BVD, check out our free online BVD self-test or contact our optometry center in Santa Barbara, CA and speak to our friendly, reassuring and knowledgeable team by calling (805) 626-3400.