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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Lose balance when eyes are closed

12/13/2000

Question:

I lose my balance when my eyes are closed or it is dark. I am 40 and can`t remember being any other way. Any ideas?

Answer:

There are several factors that help keep people on balance. Your inner ear balance system, your sensory systems (from your body) and your visual system are all integrated in more central processing areas of your brain and brainstem. By the same token, if one or more of those systems is not functioning optimally, the other(s) can compensate. So in your case, it may well be that your visual input helps you maintain normal balance and when you close your eyes, things are not compensated for as well. It sounds as if it would be worthwhile to be checked out for a balance disorder. Most people can maintain their balance when their eyes are closed. After a thorough history and physical exam, a balance workup would routinely include a hearing test (to assess inner ear function) and possibly specific balance tests to see if the inner ear balance system is working properly. After these were to be performed, possible diagnoses could be discussed with your physician for your specific case.

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Response by:

Daniel   Choo, MD Daniel Choo, MD
Associate Professor and Director, Division of Otology/Neurotology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati