What is a Vertical Deviation?

Dr. Russel Lazarus, August 5, 2021

Vertical deviation (DVD) is an eye condition that causes eye strain, fatigue and even migraines.

If you experience headaches or your office or school performance is being impacted, you may have a vertical deviation (DVD), an eye problem that is often missed in general eye exams.

Vertical deviation of the eyes is successfully treated by vision therapy.

What is dissociated vertical deviation (DVD)?

DVD is a condition in which the eyes don’t work together easily, as one eye has a tendency to drift upwards, similar to an eye turn or strabismus. 

In DVD, one eye tends to stray upwards on a regular or irregular basis, and the amount of drifting may vary during the day. Upward drift can affect one or both eyes, and the amount of drift varies.

In addition to the most typical upward drift found in DVD, outward drift or rotation of one of the eyes can also occur. This eye drift can also be referred to as hyperphoria or hypotropia.

Why does DVD occur?

DVD isn’t ordinarily apparent at birth, but usually presents by age two or three.  Children with early-onset strabismus (eye turns) have the highest rate of DVD, as their eyes have not developed strong ‘teamwork’ yet.

A loss of 3D vision or depth perception is significantly linked to the presence of DVD. It may also develop following eye muscle surgery to correct strabismus.

SEE RELATED: Hypertropia or Hyperphoria

If you or your child experiences any of the symptoms below, contact an eye doctor near you.

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Signs and symptoms of DVD

Dissociated vertical deviation can cause a variety of  symptoms, including but not limited to:

  • Eye turn
  • Deviation of one eye
  • Spatial disorientation
  • Diplopia (double vision)
  • Inaccurate depth perception
  • Abnormal postural adaptation/abnormal working distance

How to treat DVD

Vision therapy or prism glasses are the most effective treatments when DVD is significant.

Vision therapy includes a specific regimen of eye exercises, prescription glasses, and/or prisms.  The goal of treatment is to improve the eyes’ ability to work together to prevent upward drift.

LEARN MORE: Guide to Vision Therapy

If you or your child shows any signs of DVD, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor near you who can discuss vision therapy and the best treatment options with you.