About 4 in 10 people in Goodyear experience a balance disorder sometime in their lives. Dizziness is more common as we age; one of the most widely-reported forms is vertigo, characterized by a sensation of movement – people often liken it to a spinning room. It can be hard to diagnose vertigo, but a new pair of goggles might enable people at home to do it themselves.
The Challenges in Diagnosing Vertigo
Vertigo is an extreme form of dizziness that causes unsteadiness, loss of balance and coordination, a spinning sensation and nausea. Some patients experience additional symptoms such as headache, perspiration, vomiting, double vision, tinnitus and hearing loss. Vertigo is a blanket term; there are several different types, and all are caused by unique conditions. This makes it difficult for your Goodyear ENT specialist to accurately diagnose vertigo. A study published in the May 15, 2019 issue of the American Academy of Neurology’s online medical journal Neurology offers promise that a new pair of goggles might help pinpoint the type of vertigo – from the comfort of the patient’s home.
Study author Miriam S. Welgampola, MD, PhD, of the University of Sydney in Australia and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, says, “Vertigo can be a disabling condition, so an accurate diagnosis is important to effectively treat and stop the vertigo as soon as possible. Observing a person’s eye movements during an episode can help make the diagnosis, but people don’t always have an episode when they are at the doctor’s office.”
Dr. Welgampola and her research group looked at 117 people who had been diagnosed with one of three conditions that cause vertigo:
- 67 had vestibular migraines.
- 43 had Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that causes hearing and balance problems.
- 7 had benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), a disorder in which calcium crystals “float” around loosely in the fluid of the inner ear and the most common cause of vertigo.
How Did The Study Work?
Study participants were given a pair of video-oculography goggles designed to record the repetitive and uncontrolled eye movements that are a hallmark of vertigo. These movements may occur from side to side, up and down or around in circles and provide clues to the type of vertigo a patient is experiencing. Vertigo is measured on a scale that determines sensitivity (the percentage of positive eye movements correctly identified) and specificity (the percentage of negative movements correctly identified).
What Did Dr. Welgampola Learn?
Fast horizontal eye movements were most often associated with Meniere’s disease. The goggles had a sensitivity of 95 percent and specificity of 82 percent. Vestibular migraine sufferers were more likely to experience variable eye movement patterns; the specificity for these patients was 93 percent but the sensitivity was only 24 percent. BPPV patients had a perfect 100 percent sensitivity and 78 percent specificity.
Overall, these are pretty encouraging numbers, though further studies involving larger population samples are needed before widespread use of the goggles occurs. There is also some question as to the study’s overall accuracy, since some of the test subjects weren’t feeling well enough to try the goggles and others didn’t use them when their vertigo was mild. Additionally, medications might have had some influence on the results. However, researchers are hopeful that these goggles will be used in the near future to help patients record eye movements at home and share the information with their doctors for a more accurate diagnosis.
If you are experiencing episodes of vertigo, we encourage you to visit a Goodyear ear, nose and throat specialist for treatment.