Can moving your eyes cause tinnitus?

Can moving your eyes cause tinnitus?

The diagnosis of tinnitus involves patient history taken, clinical examination, neuropsychological assessments, and audiometric and tinnitus tests. Even though self-pressure in itself is not a full diagnostic exam (we recommend reading another post on diagnosis here), it can be part of a physical examination. Somatosensory tinnitus can be confirmed through the physical examination.

Somatosensory tinnitus is suspected when at least one of the following has a relationship with your onset of tinnitus (Sanchez et al 2011):

  1. Evident history of head or neck trauma

  2. Tinnitus associated with some manipulation of the teeth, jaw or cervical spine

    • For example: movements of the head, neck and jaw

  3. Recurrent pain episodes in head, neck or shoulder region

  4. Temporal coincidence of appearance or increase of both pain and tinnitus

  5. Increase of tinnitus during adequate postures during rest, walking, working or sleeping

  6. Intense bruxism periods during the day or night

One criteria, which is not as common, is a relationship of tinnitus with eye movements. This relationship of tinnitus to eye movements is not as common as neck/head/jaw movements, but could occur with some people.

We call this gaze-evoked tinnitus and it could occur in the vertical (up/down) or horizontal (side/side) axis.

We usually find that persons with very “irritable” symptoms, or symptoms on a higher pain rating scale, could exhibit gaze-evoked tinnitus due to the relationship of the eyes to the suboccipital muscles. We also normally see the same temporary change of tinnitus is modulated through head, neck and jaw movements too.

Someone with gaze-evoked tinnitus most likely has vertigo and/or dizziness as a symptom at times too. You may also have non-specific sensation sof spinning, whirling, unsteadiness, imbalance when walking or standing.

The reason we wrote this blog is that the treatment for this type of tinnitus may need to not only include manual and exercise therapies to the jaw and neck, but also the patient could benefit from vestibular rehabilitation.

Vestibular rehabilitation involves an exercise prescription with overall goal of providing compensation for central nervous system abnormalities.

A vestibular therapist will gradually increase the level of difficulty that fit a patient’s needs and abilities to then help he/she with harder tasks that we encounter daily. Gaze stability exercises are considered a critical component of vestibular rehabilitation.

A detailed history-taking and physical examination would determine if someone could benefit from not only manual and exercise therapies, but vestibular rehabilitation too.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Tinnitus Treatment
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