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SEE Sick Syndrome by Roderic W. Gillilan, OD

GillilandThe SEE Sick Syndrome

aka Neuro-ocular-vestibular Dysfunction (NOVD)
by Roderic W. Gillilan, OD retired

Headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, photophobia and klutziness are some of the common symptoms of motion sickness and the SEE sick syndrome (SSS). PUCO has offered training to it’s students and a CE course on the SSS for many years but most OD’s, other professionals and the public are still unaware of it. 

The SSS is condition in which a person is hyper-sensitivity to visual motion and eye movement. This leads to symptoms of moderate to severe motion sickness combined with photophobia. The severity and frequency of the different symptoms in the SSS patients can vary widely.  Most SSS patients have life long histories of car sickness which occurs almost exclusively in the daytime. (Less motion is observed at the sides of the road at night).

I estimate that approximately 6% of the adult female population and 1% of the adult males develop the SSS to some degree. It normally is mild in nature in children and then gradually becomes more severe over a period of years but can also, be acquired suddenly, sometimes as a result of head trauma. The affect on academic, athletic, occupational and social skills varies from mild to severe. 

SSS people cannot look down in a car (as in looking at a map, phone or book, without nausea, headache, dizziness or fatigue (motion sickness). Many SSS patients develop symptoms doing such everyday simple tasks such as shopping, using a computer or smart phone or reading. Some SSS patients sometimes suffer from constant symptoms regardless of their activity or lack of. The most severely affected cannot eat or observe others using hand gestures due to observing the movement of their hands.

Possibly 50% of SSS sufferers have developed a reduced awareness of objects in the periphery, (functional tunnel vision). which may have developed as an unrecognized protective mechanism. The patients seldom realize they have limited peripheral vision but it is the reason for their “klutziness”, losing their place when reading, etc.

Most SSS patients, as well as the simple motion sickness sufferers, can be cured by doing Dynamic Adaptive Vision Therapy (DVAT) procedures daily over a period of four to eight weeks. The procedures can be done doing a combination of in-office and home sessions or with home sessions only. The only equipment required is a Marsden ball and two pencils.

There are a limited number of optometric physicians in the USA and abroad who do care for SSS patients. Unfortunately, the SSS patient is not diagnosed during a standard eye or medical examination. However, a preliminary diagnosis can usually be made just by asking the right questions while taking a case history. It can also, be self diagnosed rather accurately in most cases, when the patient reads the list of common symptoms.

It is important for all OD’s to be able to recognize SSS patients even if they do not provide vision therapy services, for two reasons. First, just making a tentative diagnosis of SSS is often a huge relief to the patients to finally find a doctor who understands their condition. In addition, a referral to an optometric practice that does vision therapy or a physical therapist who treats vestibular disorders offers them a probable cure.  Do-it-yourself training has be successfully accomplished by some.  

For more information visit www.SEEsicksyndrome.com  for comprehensive text and video information for both professionals and patients. It includes a complete “how to” manual as well as video instruction.