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How Vision Affects Our Balance

Have you ever wondered why all of a sudden your balance has changed?  Did you recently experience changes in your vision?  Maybe even had laser eye surgery?  Changes to our vision can contribute to the cause of us to lose our balance and increase our risk of falls. The impact of our vision is much more profound than just the clarity of the images we see. Our eyes have the potential to become a crutch for our balance issues affecting our ability to prevent from falling.  What our brain sees versus what our brain feels needs to be the same message.  Otherwise, we can experience dizziness, nausea, even vomiting if the messages do not match.  This phenomenon is referred to as your vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR).  Understanding how changes to our vision can affect our balance is key to restoring our confidence and preventing falls. 

Age-related eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy can disturb your VOR. Even wearing an eye patch for several days can disable your VOR. When your eye muscles are not being stimulated, it can weaken the muscles around it. This impairment can be debilitating and is the root for causing many older adults to fear falling, increasing their risk for falls. This can ultimately make daily activities challenging and worsen the quality of life and personal independence. 

So, what can you do to prevent or restore such impairment? Our Hawaii island community significantly lacks rehabilitation services that address falls and balance issues in older adults. Ke Ola Kino Physical Therapy, LLC, offers a preventative care treatment providing skilled physical therapy services allowing us to improve our VOR in the comfort of our community. The treatment session focuses on fall prevention, including VOR training and balance exercises. Ke Ola Kino Physical Therapy, LLC’s goal is to restore impaired VOR to reduce the fear of falling and increase confidence in our ability to move around and perform daily activities independently.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to Ke Ola Kino Physical Therapy to join one of their Falls and Balance Group Class if you’re interested!


Authored by Angela Laureta, SPT
University of Washington
Edited by Dr. Malia Tallett P.T., D.P.T., T.P.S.



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