TMJ Vision Problems

Dr. Shapira Chicago, Deerfield, Evanston, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Mettawa, Morton Grove, Northbrook, Northfield, Skokie, Vernon Hills, Vision, Wilmette, Winnetka 23 Comments

The jawbone’s connected to … the eyes?

tmj-vision-problems-chicagoOf all of the problems that can be caused by disorders of the TMJ, eye strain or TMJ vision problems may seem to be the strangest. How can a joint that controls the jaw cause problems with your eyesight? Through muscles and nerves, your TMJ is wired to nearly everything else in your head, neck and face.

TMJ causes headaches, and headaches can, in turn, cause vision problems. Another factor is a nerve that is responsible for more than half of the total input to the brain: the trigeminal nerve. Understanding a bit about the trigeminal nerve will make it easy to see the connection between TMJ disorder and vision.

The trigeminal nerve has three branches:

  • Ophthalmic (pertaining to the eye)
  • Maxillary (pertaining to the upper jaw bone)
  • Mandibular (pertaining to the upper jaw bone)

Your TMJ: It’s got a lot of nerve

These three nerve braches make the connection between the jaw and the eyes rather clear. TMJ pain is transmitted through these nerve pathways, and it can result in pain in other parts of the face. Many TMJ patients experience disturbances in vision.

Other common complaints are:

Retro-orbital Pain or pain behind the eyes

  • pressure behind the eyes
  • blurry vision
  • watery eyes
  • eye strain
  • sensitivity to light, OFTEN SEVERE AND SOMETIMES MISTAKENLY THOUGHT TO BE MIGRAINE
  • floaters (small moving spots that you see in your field of vision)
  • Droopy Eyelids
  • FLASHING LIGHTS IN THE EYES MAY BE RETINAL DETATCHMENT!    SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE WITH OPTHAMOLOGIST.
  • Many patients feel they have a vision problem because pain makes it difficult to read, especially small print or off a computer

Beware the domino effect

Our reaction to pain can often make the situation worse. When we feel the pain of a headache, jaw pain, neck pain or other pain related to TMJ, we unconsciously respond by positioning ourselves differently or using our muscles differently in an attempt to alleviate the pain.

Pain in the face or head can have a domino effect, with one issue leading to another through the trigeminal nerve or our own reactions to the pain.

Check your habits

tmj-habitsYour TMJ is an important – and potentially problematic – part of your body.

The two joints lie on either side of the head between the mandible; the lower jaw, and the temporal bone at the base of the skull. It’s what allows our jaws to open and close. Because using our jaws is involved in two of the primary functions of our lives: eating and speaking, the TM joints are susceptible to issues.

A TMJ disorder can be caused suddenly by an injury to the head or face, but more often, it builds up gradually. It can be due to our behavior or habits.

Some common habitual causes of TMJ disorder are:

  • Teeth clenching
  • Eating hard foods frequently or taking oversized bites
  • Poor posture

People who sing or speak for a living may be more likely to encounter TMJ issues. Anyone can develop TMJ problems, and in order to get rid of the pain, vision problems, or other issues caused by TMJ, the TMJ problem itself must be eliminated.

Get relief from TMJ Vision Problems

TMJ is best treated with non-invasive methods that do not permanently change the structure of the jaw or teeth. Pain relievers can help, and there are jaw and posture exercises that can bring relief to TMJ sufferers.  If you are experiencing vision problems, headaches, jaw pain or facial pain, TMJ could be the cause.

To learn more about TMJ or to make a consultation appointment, contact our office.

Comments 23

  1. For the past two years I have been suffering from brain fog, pressure in ears and behind eyes, and somewhat blurry vision. In addition, I suffer from vestibular migraines (which came at the onset of the other symptoms). I am being treated with medication for the vestibular migraines and it helps a good amount. I still have symptoms of pressure in ears and behind eyes, along with slightly blurry vision and now a great deal of anxiety. Over the past two years I have noticed some jaw pain (especially when eating bagels), however, I never thought much of it until my mom told me about TMJ and I looked into it. With that said, I decided to get a night guard made and have been wearing it the past couple of nights. My question is, have you seen patients who have foggy head, head pressure, etc. with some jaw pain (but one of the lesser symptoms) who found relief in symptoms after fixing the misalignment from TMJ? I think there is a chance that TMJ is causing my problems, but I am skeptical just because I don’t have much pain- I have more so discomfort in my entire head.

  2. Post
    Author

    There are many connections between the ears, the eyes and your other symptoms. These occur inboth the somato-sensory nevous system and the autonomic nervous system. When there are issues within the trigeminal nervous system it can cause secondary ear pain, tinnitus pressure and even vestibular problems. The tensor tympani (tenso of eardrum) is innervated by the trigeminal nerve which also innervates jaw muscles, jaw joints teeth gum and periodontal ligaments.

    Pressure in the ears can be due to improper function of the tensor vili palatine muscle that opens and closes the eustacian tube. The blurry vision can result from changes in the orbit of the eye called by the sphenomandibularis muscle.

    Wearing a nightguard can help but I strongly suggest a 24/7 diagnostic neuromuscuar orthotic. A problem that effects you day and night should ideally be treated both day and night.

    There is an excellent chance that correcting jaw positioning and muscle function can help relieve all your issues.

    There is usually ultimodal therapy including SPG Blocks, Trigger Point injections exercises and other therapies direct toward your unique issues.

    You can find additional information at http://www.IHateHeadaches.org and see patient testimonial viddeos at:
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk9Bfz6pklC7_UluWFHzLrg

    The good news is that you should expect considerable improvement with physiologic treatment and trigger point treatment. Treating the autonomic system with SPG Blockscan also give amazing improvement.

  3. I have been having some slight pain on my left jaw from sleeping using a pillow that sometimes bother me in the middle of the night. So, I went out for breakfast with wife, came back. Wife said, tree leaves hanging over our neighbor’s property. I got to work. Got sweating and some panting. Came in, sat down with fan in my face. Cooled down. Laid down, took a nap. Got up and my left jaw seemed tight on teeth and right jaw floating and right teeth do not touch now. Started to see double vision, had a headache on the right side of forehead. Was dizzy. Got scared. Most cleared except my jaw is now in new position as said. Can see Okay now. Called my Heart Surgeon brother and he felt it was a mini-stroke because of the double vision. I sense somewhat that it could be TMJ related. Can you give me any idea if I’m nuts or wrong? Will be going to my internist to check me out. What is your take Doc?

  4. Post
    Author

    Sam,

    Most jaw injuries are repetitive strain injuries. Whther it is jaw position, chewing gum, head postural issues ete. When you worked on tree limbs you used shoulder and neck muscles differently than yon your usual routine. The cold fan could easily set off tightening of the jaw and neck muscles all of which could trigger a pre-existing problem.
    There is good possibility of an internal derangement of your TMJoint. The double vision could have been related to cranial sacrl issues. Tourqing of the maxila alters the orbits of the eyes. First, rule out issue of TIAs
    Your Internest probably won’t have a clue.
    Check out my youtube channel. I have many patients with similar types of symptoms.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk9Bfz6pklC7_UluWFHzLrg

  5. I woke on 10/28 w a pain in mu skull. Along w migraine symptoms, I have extreme light sensitivity and constant eye floaters. I’ve been checked out by my PCP, opthomologist, neuro, and ENT. MRI of the orbits and Ct scan all clear. Could this trigeminal nerve or possibly the occipital nerve be causing this because I’m very sick and nobody know why. Also what specific doc do I see and tests to confirm this
    Thank you

  6. Post
    Author

    The good news is between CAT Scans and MRI you have ruled out major organic issues. You are the type of patient I routinely see in my practice. Physicians rule out major disease but have nothing to offer but medications to improve the condition.
    I often can relieve much of the pain on the very first consult appointment in the process of evaluation. I have no effect on the floaters and the light sensitivty usually takes longer to heal. The majority of pain is usually myofascial and trigeminal in nature. Very often there is an autonomic component that SPG Blocks can help.
    Please check my youtube channel to hear the stories of patients with similar stories to yours and hpw they responded to treatment.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk9Bfz6pklC7_UluWFHzLrg.
    You can also visitmy http://www.IHateHeadaches.org website.

  7. For many years I have had increasing symptoms (especially nuerological). I have had terrible vision problems that continue to get worse. It is as if my entire vision is made up of floaters. Tiny little ones that are behind my entire vision. I was told by my doctors 2 years ago that I have tmj. Could these eye problem be related to tmj? I also constantry deal with blurred vison, and light sensitivity (I’m desperate for answers, as my vision has gotten terrible!) Thank you!

  8. Post
    Author

    There are many connections between the eyes and the functional systems of the jaw. The trigeminal nerve accounts for over 50% of input to the brain after amplification in the Reticular Activating System and it can cause or excerbate mant types of neuological systems as well as have major effects on the eyes.
    Please view my Videos on Youtube, many of these patients had diverse eye problems in addition to other symptoms. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk9Bfz6pklC7_UluWFHzLrg

  9. I think I have tmj problems. It happened when I trıed to open my mouth too big to see my dents.. I was frequently doing that action at the end I ended up some vısual dısturbances like flash lights, floaters in the eyes, visual snow..What can I do to get over this problems. Pelase help me about this issue. I will try to get some cervical spondylosis treatment I dont know weather it works or not…

    pelase tell what to eat or what not to eat and other general things.

    thank you so much.

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    Author
  11. I took a knee to the side of my right jaw during a takedown attempt in wrestling. I was treated for a concussion and whiplash. I ended up with blurry vision / floaters, pressure behind the eyes, mild balance issues really more of a floating sensation, especially if I am on my feet for too long and some mild cognitive impairment when on my feet to long.

    I wen through concussion treatment for two years and nothing seemed to improve my symptoms. I also had some atrophy in the neck from all the prescribed bed rest.

    Anyways my jaw always locks and pops since the injury, however due to the other symptoms this was really not a main concern of mine. However it has been several years the other symptoms haven’t fully resolved. I noticed that by even just gently pushing on my jaw at the point were it locks i can trigger the facial numbness and tingling sensation below my eye and increased ear fullness sensation. I started looking up the nerves involved in both the area I touch and the sensations in my face. Being that is also part of where I was hit I am beginning to wonder If TMJ could be a part of my symptoms. Vestibular damage and other things have been ruled out by previous specialists and my 3T brain and cervical MRI’s/ MRA’s don’t seem to correspond to these symptoms.

    I was wondering if this is something that is possible? I apologize for the long winded questions. This injury has completely altered my life so I am just willing to look into all avenues.

    I Thank you for your time.

  12. I’ve got droppy eyelids due to either tmd or bruxuism. In addition my whole face has changed. Is there any hope that this can be fixed ? Thanks

  13. Post
    Author

    Dear Karen,

    Droopy eyelids is a common symptom seen in TMJ disorders and in patients with sleep apnea. These problems are closely related. The ULF-TENS utilized in physiologic dentistry stimulates both the trigeminal nerve and facial nerve which controls the eyelids. I strongly Rx starting with a Diagnostic Physiologic Orthotic. Avoid any aggressive treatment until symptoms are resolved. Some dentist will want to equilibrate your mouth by grinding on your teeth which could make your issues much worse.

  14. Post
    Author

    Rick,
    I can help. Your story is very typical of many patients. The pain and TMJ disorders can take two or more years to occur after whiplash even if there is not a direct injury to the jaw or jaw joints. The locking is particularly ominous and I suggest you start treatment with an diagnostic physiologic orthotic to eliminate pain and locking. Some patients need seperate day and night appliances. The trigeminal system accounts for over 50% of input to the brain after amplification in Reticular Activating System. The trigeminal nerve innervates the teeth, periodontal ligaments, jaw muscles, tensor of eardrum, the muscle that opens and close the eustacian tube, the sinuses, the nose and the tongue. It is called the “Dentist’s Nerve” but it is also in the center of every headache and migraine. The trigeminal nerve controls blood flow to the brain thru the meninges of the brain.
    I look forward to helping you alleviate symptoms. There is frequently significant improvement after just 1-2 appointments.

  15. Been having lots of pain on the left side of my face. My ear has fullness and makes me feel as if I have a bubble in my ear. The eye on my left side has pressure and pain. Makes me nauseous and feels like my vision is being affected. Been doing PT almost for a year 2 times a week and now doing actue puncture and my pain continues to get worse. I am in so much pain my anxiety is off the chart because of the pain and the fear of blindness from the pain

  16. Post
    Author

    Dear Tamara,
    It is unlikely that your pain will cause blindness. I would suggest having your physician do a Sed rate to rule out Temporal Arteritis that can cause blindness if not treated. It is likely you have a TMD disorder with referred myofascial pain and irritation of the Trigeminal nerves. A diagnostic neuromuscular orthotic may quickly let pain disperse. An SPG Block may also be helpful. The pain is usually easy to treat. Please watch my patient videos to understand treatment better. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk9Bfz6pklC7_UluWFHzLrg

  17. Hi Dr. Shapiro,
    I have a reverse neck curve, open bite, narrow upper and lower pallet and other minor jaw abnormalities. I also get chronic headaches, but only when reading. Opthomologists say its because of a fusional vergence dysfunction, where my eyes focus fine but don’t team together. Can TMJ be the cause of this?
    Best,
    Greg

  18. Post
    Author

    Dear Greg,
    You have developmental issues of your jaws and airway that are probably related to neck issues. The vision problems may have a common source as well. I suggest evaluating your TMJ problems with a diagnostic neuromuscular orthotic.
    Long term treatment with
    Epigenetic orthopedics/orthodontics could correct developmental issues and possibly help vision problems. The shape of crainal bones do affect vision.

  19. Post
    Author

    Dear Greg,
    You have developmental issues of your jaws and airway that are probably related to neck issues. The vision problems may have a common source as well. I suggest evaluating your TMJ problems with a diagnostic neuromuscular orthotic.
    Long term treatment with
    Epigenetic orthopedics/orthodontics could correct developmental issues and possibly help vision problems. The shape of cranial bones do affect vision.

  20. Hi I have been clenching I have pain on the upper part of my left eye,temple and beck I am currently working out doing heavy lifting and wore braces for two years to fix my bite thstbinhd wearing a splint have not had a flare up in two years I have been taking ib pro 800 bid and nothing helps just stress but what can ease the pain

  21. Post
    Author

    Kim,
    Look into a NEUROMUSCULAR ORTHOTIC which will perfectly balance physiology. You will probably need to adjust the orthotic with time.
    Most Lifters tend to develop severe forward head postures that actually interfere with idealizing physical abilities. They are also the cause of back pain. Most orthodontists move teeth but do not aim to improve airway. The Aqualizer Appliance is a self balancing appliance that will probably give better results than your current splint but a true neuromuscular orthotic is the best solution.

    I treated a shot put state champion with one and he thew the shot 8 inches further on his first throw with it in his mouth and continued to improve. He was throwing national champion distances but was not able to do that under the stress of national championship competition.

    Pain is always a problem and one sided pain off points to imbalances that go throughout the body. Visit http://www.triggerpoints.net to understand the individual patterns of pain. To understand how the body connect is more complicated as there are both ascending and descending chains.

    You should find a doctor who will teach you Travell spray and stretch techniques.

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    Author

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