Motion Sickness and Vision

Woman experiencing motion sickness

The Link Between Motion Sickness and Vision

Subtle problems with vision can contribute to motion sickness, an uncomfortable problem that affects both children and adults. Fortunately, vision therapy offers an effective way to decrease motion sickness symptoms.

Why Motion Sickness Occurs

Riding in a car or boat confuses your brain if you suffer from motion sickness. Your eyes tell your brain that you're moving, while receptors in your muscles, skin, and inner ear indicate that you're perfectly still. When your brain struggles to process these competing messages, you start to feel nauseated and dizzy. Motion sickness is a common problem. In fact, one in three people is highly susceptible to motion sickness, according to Medline Plus.

Motion sickness can also happen when you play video games or watch a shaky video on your laptop or phone. Called "cybersickness," the condition is more likely to occur in people who also suffer from motion sickness, the Vestibular Disorders Association notes.

Traditional Motion Sickness Treatments

Simple strategies, like staring at the horizon while you're in a moving vehicle or ignoring your symptoms, are often recommended for motion sickness. While these tricks may help some people, they may not be quite as effective if you have severe motion sickness. No matter how many positive thoughts you think, nausea, sweating, belching, dizziness, and other symptoms of motion sickness soon take over.

Motion sickness medication can be helpful but even the non-drowsy type may make you feel a little tired. If your child feels sick every day on the school bus, or your train or bus ride into work tends to trigger your motion sickness symptoms, taking daily medication may not be the best solution.

Ginger chews or acupressure wristbands can help some people but offer no relief for others. Unfortunately, motion sickness symptoms don't always stop the moment you reach your destination or stop looking at a screen. Some people still feel sick even hours later.

Vision Therapy Offers a Simple Solution for Motion Sickness

Your motion sickness symptoms may actually be caused or worsened by an undiagnosed vision problem. For example, you may be more susceptible to motion sickness if your eyes don't work well together. Eye teaming problems can occur for many reasons, including a slight misalignment between your eyes. Alignment issues may cause eyestrain, headaches, depth perception problems, and occasional blurred or double vision. Misalignments don't have to be noticeable to cause problems. Even small problems may trigger motion sickness and affect your vision.

You may also be prone to motion sickness if your eyes struggle to focus on near objects. Both of your eyes must turn slightly inward when you read or do close work. If one eye turns inward more than the other, reading problems, blurred or double vision, and eyestrain can occur in addition to motion sickness. The condition, called convergence insufficiency, is one of the many issues vision therapists treat.

An eye movement disorder is another possible contributing factor in motion sickness. Your eyes must move smoothly from object to object for optimum vision. If you have an eye movement disorder, your eyes may not be able to keep up with the scenery speeding past your window, which may make motion sickness worse.

These and other vision problems may increase your risk of motion sickness even if you have 20/20 vision. Fortunately, it's possible to correct or improve many vision conditions with vision therapy. The therapy is designed to strengthen and enhance the connection between your eyes and brain.

During vision therapy, you might do activities that improve your focusing ability, wear special lenses, or participate in light therapy to stimulate the brain and balance the nervous system.

Vision therapy is an excellent option if you or other family members suffer from motion sickness. If you're tired of dealing with nausea every time you ride in a car or play a video game, contact our office to schedule an appointment.


MedLine Plus: Motion Sickness

Harvard Health Publishing: Coping with Motion Sickness, 12/17

COVD: What is Visual Motion Hypersensitivity, 3/19

New York Times: Feeling Woozy? It May Be Cyber Sickness, 11/14/15

Vestibular Disorders Association: What Is Motion Sickness


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