According to the study published in the Journal of Neurology, vertigo is a form of severe dizziness that can result in a loss of balance, a feeling of falling, trouble walking or standing, or nausea. There is more than one type of vertigo, each with a different cause, and sometimes requiring different treatment.
"Vertigo can be a disabling condition, so an accurate diagnosis is important to effectively treat and stop 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," said Miriam S. Welgampola, the study's author.
For the study, researchers gave participants a pair of video-oculography goggles that record uncontrolled eye movements that accompany vertigo.
The study involved 117 people who had been previously diagnosed with one of three conditions that cause vertigo. Of the group, 43 people had Meniere's disease, an inner ear disorder that can affect hearing and balance, 67 hVertigoad vestibular migraine that can cause vertigo but may not cause a headache, and seven had benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, one of the most common causes of vertigo, where a person's head movements trigger the episodes.
Researchers taught each participant how to use the goggles to record video of their eye movements at home whenever they had a vertigo episode. Eye movements that accompany vertigo are repetitive and uncontrolled, and the eyes can move side to side, up and down or around in circles.
For the majority of people with Meniere's disease (a type of vertigo) which had fast horizontal eye movements, the goggles were able to diagnose their vertigo type accurately.
"While further studies are needed in larger groups, providing people with a pair of goggles that they can easily use at home to record eye movement that has the potential to help with vertigo diagnosis not only by a neurologist in a clinic but also by physicians in an emergency room and physicians diagnosing patients remotely as well," concluded Welgampola.
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