Gaze Instability

Gaze Instability

Gaze instability occurs when an individual’s head and eye movements are out of sync. It results in an inability to focus and/or the sensation that objects are bouncing or swaying. Sometimes referred to as visual blurring or movement-induced dizziness, symptoms of gaze instability tend to worsen when walking or otherwise in motion.

Like many other forms of chronic dizziness, gaze instability is usually indicative of a vestibular disorder. Research compiled by the Vestibular Disorders Association estimates that approximately 35 percent of Americans over the age of 40 have experienced some form of vestibular dysfunction in their lifetime.

Gaze instability can be disorienting and disruptive to daily functions. That is why it is important to consult with a medical professional, such as the doctors at Sierra Nevada Ear, Nose & Throat. Make an appointment today to learn more about diagnosis and treatment options.

Treating Gaze Instability

Gaze Instability vs. Vertigo

Gaze instability and vertigo are both symptoms of vestibular disorders. “Vestibular” refers to the intricate network between the inner ear and brain that processes sensory cues and controls balance. As you move, so does the fluid in your ear, sending messages to your brain about spatial positioning. When this process is disrupted, balance problems–vestibular disorders–can occur.

While gaze instability is the inability to focus on objects, vertigo is typically characterized as a spinning or whirling sensation. Patients may experience one or both of these symptoms in conjunction with vestibular disorders. There is some evidence that gaze instability is more common in those with unilateral vestibular hypofunction (UHV), or an issue that affects only one ear. UVH may be the result of infection or disease, injury, age or medication. Vertigo is linked with a wide variety of the most common vestibular disorders, including benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and Ménière’s disease.

There is no single cause of vestibular disorders. Likewise, there are different forms of vestibular rehabilitation therapy to address gaze instability and vertigo. That is why it is so important to consult with a medical professional, such as the experts at Sierra Nevada ENT, to determine the underlying cause and create an effective treatment plan.

Gaze Stabilization Exercises

Gaze stabilization exercises are specific, repeated movements of the head while viewing objects set against different backgrounds. They are generally recommended for those who experience visual blurring, difficulty focusing and/or dizziness with movement such as walking. The exercises are designed around the specific needs of each patient and can be adapted for all individuals, including older populations and those with limited mobility.

Gaze stabilization exercises may be accompanied by other forms of vestibular rehabilitation therapy, including:

  • Habituation exercises
    Habituation aims to decrease the severity of a response through repeated exposure to the problematic stimuli. It works best with patients who experience dizziness or instability in conjunction with movements, such as turning their head quickly or looking up.
  • Balance training exercises
    Balance training involves strengthening posture and body mechanics when standing still and while moving in a controlled environment in order to reduce the risk of falling and improve safety with daily activities. Any patient experiencing instability with daily activities will benefit from this approach. 

While each balance therapy method targets a different issue, all involve consistent exposure and movements that build upon one another gradually in a safe and professional setting.

At Sierra Nevada ENT’s Center for Vestibular Rehabilitation, our experts tailor each vestibular therapy program to the individual patient, helping them reduce gaze instability and return to normal daily function.

Balance Therapy

Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) is specialized physical therapy designed to treat dizziness and imbalance caused by various vestibular disorders. These types of conditions can cause motion sensitivity, difficulty walking and changing position and increase the risk of falling.  For this reason, vestibular rehabilitation therapy is sometimes referred to as balance therapy.

Balance therapy teaches your body and your brain to compensate for disruptions to your sensory system. Visiting a professional balance therapy center is the best way to reduce and even eliminate the symptoms of vestibular disorders, such as gaze instability.

Sierra Nevada ENT specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of balance disorders at our Center for Vestibular Rehabilitation. Our goal is to help patients identify, manage and reduce symptoms in order to return to normal daily function.

Based on a patient’s diagnosis and presentation, our therapists customize a treatment plan, working with the individual in a one-on-one setting, as well as providing an exercise routine that can be performed at home. If you are experiencing new or worsening symptoms, particularly if they interfere with your ability to function on a daily basis, contact us today.

Balance Therapy Center

Sierra Nevada ENT

With locations in Reno, Carson City, Gardnerville and Fallon, Sierra Nevada ENT has been proudly serving the Northern Nevada area for over 25 years.

We treat gaze instability and a variety of other vestibular disorders at our state-of-the-art balance therapy center. Our experts specialize in vestibular rehabilitation therapy for patients with dizziness, balance deficits and more.

Sierra Nevada ENT offers VRT in a caring, safe and professional setting. Our team is committed to helping patients alleviate symptoms associated with balance disorders and return to normal function. Call to schedule an appointment today.

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