Eye exercises make up part of a type of therapy called vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT). VRT can provide effective therapy for vertigo resulting from:
Eye exercises may work to alleviate vertigo because they help a person adjust and maintain balance.
Doing exercises that involve moving the eyes and head can help people adapt to these movements, training their bodies to adjust to vertigo triggers.
The hope is this will reduce vertigo as a person gets used to the movements over time.
However, a doctor will recommend different exercises depending on the underlying cause of vertigo.
A person should speak with a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any of these exercises as they could be ineffective or worsen vertigo, depending on the underlying conditions.
Several eye-related exercises may help a person improve their vertigo.
Before beginning any exercise program, a person should consult a physical therapist or doctor. They may have other recommendations or exercises they would like the person to practice.
The following exercises are part of a VRT program. A person should make sure to conduct the exercises in a safe and comfortable environment, as they could trigger dizziness.
It is best to start the exercises slowly, doing them for a few seconds and gradually increasing the time as a person adjusts to each exercise.
However, how long and how often a person should do these exercises depends on the underlying cause of the vertigo. Therefore, a person should talk with a doctor about the following exercises before trying them.
Place two objects on a horizontal surface, for example, two cups on a table. The objects should be level with the person’s line of sight and close enough together that a person can see both without turning their head.
Focus the eyes on one of the objects.
Quickly move the eyes to the other object, keeping the head still.
Repeat these movements several times, looking back and forth at each object.
The half somersault maneuver (HSM) is also known as the Foster maneuver. A 2021 study found that the HSM was more effective in treating BPPV than the Epley maneuver.
To conduct this exercise, a person should:
Kneel on the floor.
Quickly tip the head upward and back.
Assume the somersault position. To do this, a person should tuck the chin as far as possible toward the knees.
Turn the head approximately 45 degrees toward the right shoulder so it is facing the right elbow.
Then, keeping the head at 45 degrees, raise the head back up to shoulder level.
Eventually, the head is back in the fully upright position, still at 45 degrees.
A person may feel dizzy between the steps. If this happens, they should allow the dizziness to subside before going to the next step. Each position should be held for 15 seconds if there is no dizziness.
Learn about other exercises that can alleviate vertigo.
In addition to exercises, a doctor may recommend other treatments for vertigo.
For some causes of vertigo, a person may find that dietary changes help. For example, a person living with Ménière’s disease may find that reducing their intake of salt, alcohol, and caffeine may help.
With treatment, a person should find that their vertigo improves over time. However, it is possible for symptoms to return.
For example, about 50% of people living with BPPV experience a relapse within 5 years. Also, about one-third of people who experience vertigo from anxiety will still experience symptoms after 1 year.
If vertigo is a symptom of an underlying condition, treating the condition should help to alleviate or eliminate vertigo.
A person should talk with a doctor to determine the underlying cause and find out how they can treat it.
Eye exercises may help people improve their vertigo when paired with head movements. Additionally, several other exercises, such as the Epley maneuver and the half somersault maneuver, can help a person alleviate vertigo.
In some cases, a doctor may recommend medication and lifestyle changes to help alleviate or eliminate vertigo.
Most people should see at least some improvement in their vertigo following treatment, though it is possible to experience a return of symptoms after some time.