"Doctor, sometimes I feel really dizzy" is a complaint occasionally heard during optometric examinations. A 1985 nationwide survey found that for patients over 25 years of age, dizziness accounted for 1% of all chief complaints presented to primary care providers.(1) In terms of management, 1.5% of patients with this complaint were admitted to a hospital, 4.4% were referred to a specialist, and 89% were prescribed medication.(1)
Dizziness becomes a greater problem as patients get older. In the elderly, almost one out of five reports dizziness that impairs daily activities or is severe enough to warrant medical attention.(1,2) In patients over the age of 75, dizziness is the most common complaint made to primary care physicians.(3) Given the frequency of the problem, it is not surprising that optometrists often encounter complaints of dizziness.
Typically, optometric management of dizziness involves an evaluation of the patient's refractive, binocular, accommodative, and visual status. If this examination is not productive, the patient is usually referred to a family care physician. The physician will probably treat the dizziness with a symptom suppressing medication or might send the patient on to a specialist in an attempt to discover the cause of the problem.
In this paper, the various distinct sensations that are usually referred to by patients as dizziness will be reviewed, the causes of these sensations will be discussed, and management plans associated with some of the etiologies will be presented.
Robert L. Yolton, PhD, OD
Company: Pacific University
Expire Date: 04/01/2005
CE Credits: 3
CE Format: Online text/photos