Vision problems, such as eye strain, blurred vision, or sight loss, can cause dizziness in some cases. This is because visual information helps with balance and movement.

However, the relationship can also occur in reverse: conditions that cause dizziness could result in difficulty focusing the eyes. For example, inner ear infections affect balance and may make it look as though the room is spinning.

This article explores the link between dizziness and vision problems, including the symptoms a person might have, possible causes, and treatments.

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Dizziness is the feeling of disorientation or lightheadedness. It is not an illness in itself, but a symptom of an underlying problem. This could be a medical condition affecting the eyes, ears, or brain.

A person may feel dizzy if they have balance problems. Three systems work together to maintain a person’s balance:

  • The visual system: The eyes and their movement provide information to the brain about the body’s alignment and position in space.
  • The vestibular system: The inner ear tells the brain about the head’s position, motion, and orientation in space.
  • The proprioceptive system: This includes sensory information from muscles and joints that tell the brain about the body’s position and motion.

Dizziness is common in older adults, affecting around 30% of people over the age of 65.

A person who feels dizzy may experience:

Vision-related symptoms they could experience include:

Several medical conditions could cause both of these symptoms, including:

Binocular vision problems

Binocular vision is when two eyes work together to produce a single, unified view. It is how humans typically see. When something interferes with this process, it can be visually confusing and result in dizziness, disorientation, eye strain, or headaches.

Conditions that may affect binocular vision include:

Balance problems

The strong connection between the eyes and the vestibular system means that eye problems can negatively affect balance. Similarly, balance problems that occur due to disorders of the ears or brain can make it harder to see accurately.

Vision plays an important role in calibrating the vestibular system through the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR). VOR stabilizes the gaze while the head and body are in motion. Damage to the VOR can cause problems in maintaining balance.

A 2018 study found that people with reduced vision are unlikely to be able to stand on one leg for at least a minute. The researchers used this exercise as a demonstration of poor balance.

Conditions that may cause balance problems include:

Blood pressure problems

Dizziness can occur as a result of both high and low blood pressure. High blood pressure can also result in damage to the eyes over time, particularly if a person does not receive treatment to manage it.

Conditions that may cause dizziness include:

Eye conditions that can occur due to high blood pressure include:

  • hypertensive retinopathy, which can result in blurry vision or sight loss
  • choroidopathy, which can distort vision
  • optic neuropathy, which leads to vision loss

Dizziness can have many other possible causes, such as:

While occasional, mild dizziness is not a cause for concern, a person who repeatedly experiences dizziness, loss of balance, or who has noticed vision changes should seek help.

If a person suspects that the dizziness is vision-related, they may consider contacting an eye doctor to test their sight.

If a person develops any of the following, get emergency help:

  • sudden inability to move certain muscles
  • sudden weakness or numbness
  • difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • difficulty walking
  • confusion
  • chest pain or pressure
  • pain in the neck, jaw, or arm
  • severe pain in or around the eyes
  • sudden, severe headache
  • difficulty breathing
  • very weak pulse
  • difficulty staying awake
  • loss of consciousness

The treatment for dizziness, vision problems or balance problems depends on the cause. A doctor may recommend:

  • Glasses: For vision problems, prescription glasses may help with visual acuity and refraction errors.
  • Prism glasses: For eye misalignment, an ophthalmologist can assess and recommend prescription prism glasses. If a person has double vision and prism glasses are not suitable, a doctor may suggest an eye patch.
  • Medications: Drugs such as antihistamines may help with motion sickness or vertigo, while other medications may help manage blood pressure or treat ear infections.
  • Dietary changes: Those with anemia, low blood pressure, and other conditions may require changes in their diet. For example, people with iron-deficiency anemia may need to eat more sources of iron, such as poultry, meat, and dark leafy greens.
  • Prescription changes: If a drug could be causing dizziness or vision problems as a side effect, a person can speak with a doctor about alternatives.

Doing the following may help people with recurrent dizziness:

  • lying down until a dizzy spell passes
  • moving slowly when changing position or getting up
  • using a cane or other devices to help with stability
  • drinking enough water throughout the day
  • eating a balanced, nutritious diet
  • avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine
  • avoiding long, hot baths or showers

Do not do potentially dangerous activities, such as driving or operating machinery, while dizzy.

Other strategies that may help include:

Resting the eyes throughout the day

Some tasks cause more strain in the eyes than others. Take regular breaks from using screens or reading small texts, such as newspapers and magazines, by using the 20-20-20 rule. This involves looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

Doing the Epley maneuver

The Epley maneuver is an exercise that doctors sometimes recommend for BPPV. It involves following a series of steps that move the head into different positions, holding each one for around 30 seconds.

However, this maneuver can temporarily cause nausea or vomiting, so it is advisable to get instructions from a doctor on how best to perform it.

Taking vitamins and nutrients

Those with iron-deficiency anemia who cannot get enough iron from food may benefit from taking supplements.

There may also be a link between some nutrient deficiencies and BPPV. A 2020 randomized trial found that supplementing with vitamin D and calcium reduced BPPV occurrence.

Herbal remedies

Ginger is a traditional remedy for nausea and motion sickness. People can brew ginger tea by steeping fresh slices of ginger root in water.

Taking ginkgo may also relieve balance issues and dizziness. A 2018 study found that the herb can minimize lingering dizziness after people perform repositioning maneuvers for BPPV.

However, as with all herbal remedies, ginger and gingko may not be suitable for everyone. Check with a doctor before taking any alternative treatment.

The outlook for people with dizziness and balance issues depends on the cause. Many causes are treatable, but in some cases, dizziness and problems with balance may indicate a chronic condition.

Dizziness can be the result of various factors. A doctor may need to perform a thorough evaluation to understand and treat the cause of a person’s dizziness and visual symptoms.

Vision plays an important role in posture and balance. Vision problems may cause vestibular and balance issues, such as dizziness, nausea, and headaches.

A person who suspects that their dizziness may be due to an eye problem should contact an eye doctor for an evaluation.