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Is your computer screen or phone making you dizzy?

It’s very common for folks with dizziness to be sensitive to screens, and there are several reasons for that. Let’s take a look at a few factors that affect many of my clients, and I’ll share some simple but effective tips to improve your symptoms.

Woman closes eyes due to dizziness and visual sensitivity while using a laptop screen
Screens can trigger dizziness and visual sensitivity

The modern lifestyle is full of screens: laptops, iPads, cell phones, TVs. They’re everywhere! Which makes it pretty tough to avoid them. So what can you do if they are making you dizzy?

First we need to figure out why they are making you dizzy. Below are some common causes of sensitivity to screens.

Visual vertigo

Visual vertigo is when a person has dizziness, a spinning sensation, unsteadiness, light-headedness, nausea or fogginess when in a visually complex environment or while performing a visually demanding task, such as:

  • scrolling on a phone

  • looking at a high-contrast pattern or carpet

  • watching quick movements on TV

  • driving on a highway

  • standing in a crowd

  • shopping in a supermarket

If you have visual vertigo, you might also be sensitive to bright sunlight, fluorescent lights, the strobe-light effect from lights passing through trees, or the back-and-forth whooshing of windshield wipers.

One reason a person has visual vertigo in these environments is because their brain is overusing the visual system and underusing the vestibular system. I treat this by using research-based vestibular therapy, which integrates the body’s three balance orientation systems (visual, vestibular and proprioception), and my clients have great improvements in their dizziness.


PPP- what? There are so many acronyms in the dizziness world, and PPPD is one of them that’s getting more attention lately. PPPD (or 3PD) stands for persistent postural perceptual dizziness. It’s a form of chronic dizziness that occurs after a major medical event. Though the event is over and the body has recovered, the brain has lingering difficulty with processing and integrating visual and vestibular information. A hallmark of PPPD is visual sensitivity, and this can surface during work sessions on a computer screen or scrolling on a phone.

PPPD can be successfully treated with vestibular therapy, and sometimes also cognitive behavioral therapy and medications like SSRIs or SNRIs. For patients with PPPD, I create a customized plan to gradually return to challenging tasks, like working full-time on a computer screen.

It takes time, but by talking it through, creating a plan, and assessing how it went each time, we can make steady progress at tolerating these environments and situations better and better!

Vestibular migraines and concussions

Dizziness from screens also can be a side effect of a vestibular migraine or concussion. These issues affect the way the brain processes visual and/or vestibular information. They can make the brain hypersensitive to lights and complex visual stimuli like busy patterns. This causes dizziness, lightheadedness, fogginess, headaches, and concentration problems.

Vestibular therapy can effectively treat these symptoms, whether they result from a concussion or a vestibular migraine.

Tips to reduce screen sensitivity

Regardless of what is causing your dizziness from screens, these tips help reduce symptoms:

  1. Follow the “20/20/20” rule: Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away from the screen for 20 seconds. You could set a reminder on your phone to help with this if you tend to be a very focused person.

  2. Wear blue light-blocking sunglasses. They have a subtle yellow tint to block the blue light from fluorescent lights and screens which can be especially bothersome for folks who are dizzy when using screens.

  3. Try adjusting the warmth of your screen or turn on “night mode” in the settings. A warmer, reddish screen tone is easier on the eyes than a cooler, blue tone.

  4. Make sure your computer is set up ergonomically: Your screen should be about eye level, and you should be able to sit so your shoulders feel relaxed, your back and arms feel supported, and your knees and hips are at 90 degree angles.

  5. It’s nearly impossible to sit with “perfect” posture for long periods of time, so take a standing stretch and water break every hour (try three great stretches in the video below).

Technology is part of modern life, and with that inevitably comes lots of screen use. My holistic approach to dizziness looks at the whole person, and I create customized treatment plans to get you back to doing things that are important to you, including using screens. Whether it’s through eye exercises, vestibular therapy, or postural exercises, I have a wide range of tools to get you feeling better fast!

Book a free consultation to learn more about my comprehensive approach to overcoming dizziness and sensitivity to screens.


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