We think of vision to describe how clearly we see things. The impact of vision on our lives is much more profound than just seeing the world clearly – we need it to thread a needle; identify people moving in crowds; and while driving a car, seeing a child and anticipating that child running onto the street.
To maintain balance and navigate space in our physical world, we must organise and integrate information from the visual, says David Wellington from Greerton Chiropractic.
“This means the proprioceptive – information perceived through our muscles and joints to tell us where we are in space – and vestibular systems – inner ears sensing motion, equilibrium and spatial awareness.
“A deficiency in any of these three vital systems can have a dramatic impact on a person’s ability to exist in their world.”
Vision and the brain
It is generally thought that between half and two-thirds of the brain is used for visual processing, says David.
“When our eyes are open, two-thirds of the electrical activity of the brain is devoted to vision.
“Our vision is such a powerful sense that it can override information from the other senses, which is sometimes beneficial and other times detrimental. When the visual system is not working properly, providing incorrect information to other somatosensory systems, it can dramatically interfere with our quality of life.”
The eyes do a lot. They converge, for example, to thread a needle. They saccade, or move rapidly, to a new target. They are involved in pursuit, such as when we watch a car go past. They have optokinetic reflex – for example, when driving a car and the environment is moving. They also have vestibular ocular reflex – eyes looking straight ahead, head turns, and gaze fixation, when you are staring or reading.
Neck pain and vision
With our daily living activities, we will move our head to something we see in our peripheral vision and the combination of head turn and eye movement must be perfectly co-ordinated, otherwise we may perceive the sensations of dizziness, loss of balance, poor co-ordination and timing.
“From simple activities of turning to talk to someone, to extreme levels such as elite sports people, how precise this critical task is performed will affect you,” says David.
“The suboccipital muscles are extremely accurate motion detectors, they communicate to areas of the cerebellum and vestibular nuclei, injury to the cervical spine and neck pain will affect how your eyes move because of this relationship and may disrupt visual, neck and balance related functions such as reading, walking on uneven ground, running, driving, and dynamic posture, for example bending, lifting, twisting, carrying, and reaching.”
How could you know?
Because eye movements are subtle, fast, and should be precise; head, neck and spinal movement should be pain-free and smooth, accurate and dynamic. Balance should be responsive to changing environments and different settings. But how do you accurately measure these systems?
“X-rays, MRI and CT scans, and blood tests are used to measure various complaints, therefore we also need relevant equipment to test eye movements and detect a reliance or weakness of the three systems involved – balance, vision and proprioception,” says David.
“Computerised posturography can be used to detect limits of stability related to fall prevention, and the relationship between visual, proprioception and balance. RightEye eye-tracking equipment will detect eye movement patterns related to reading, accurate rapid eye movements, and smooth pursuit.”
The vital relationship between visual, proprioception and balance can’t be understated, says David.
How these systems interact defines how you get through the day. Understanding that, along with getting the right exercises and treatments, can help you regain functional loss.
“If reading is a difficult task for you or someone you know; if you get eye strain but your eyes are okay; if balance or feeling dizzy sometimes is an issue; if you keep bumping furniture on one side, tripping stumbling or falling, these are all simple signs of a potential breakdown of this system,” says David.
Call David to arrange an appointment and “you will know more than you did before and what we can do to help you”.
To book phone: 07 577 0322.
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