The Sinusitis Vision Connection

Many people wonder why their vision is impeded when they suffer from sinusitis. Blurred vision, water eyes, dull eye pain are frequent complaints presenting to my office in conjunction with a sinusitis. The sinusitis connection has to do with the spatial relationship between the sinuses and the eye structures. Multiple symptoms can occur depending on which sinus is infected. Most of the severe vision issues also revolve around bacterial sinusitis, which accounts for about 15% of all sinus infections.

The frontal and the ethmoid sinuses are the most common sinuses that produce vision symptoms. Osteomyelitis is an inflammation of the bone. Young males tend to be the most susceptible to this type of sinusitis vision connection. This osteomyelitis occurs most in the frontal sinuses above the eyes and the inflammation can spread to the inner eye socket leading to an orbital infection or inflammation of the surrounding structures. This rarely happens. The most common symptoms of osteomyelitis in the frontal sinuses include severe pain over the eyes causing squinting, excessive watering and photophobia.

If a bacterial infection occurs in the ethmoid sinuses, orbital infection can also occur. This process is more common that the frontal osteomyelitis route. This is a serious complication but occurs rarely. In these cases loss of eye movement, drooping eye lid and vision losses are common. A deep aching pain in the midline of the face can point to an ethmoid sinus infection.

The most dangerous side effect of this orbital infection occurs when the infection moves into the cavernous venous sinuses which are contained next to the pituitary gland; a brain infection. Abscesses, meningitis and other life threatening conditions may result. Very often personality changes, high fever, neck pain, sever visual problems, altered consciousness, seizures, coma and even death can occur.

Both frontal and ethmoid sinus infections can also cause blood clots. These clots can travel to the venous structures surrounding the eye causing stagnation and therefore putting pressure on these structures. A fixed pupil that is dilated is often the first sign of this.

All the above symptoms are rare and constitute the most severe sinusitis vision connections. More often mild symptoms such as water eyes, photophobia, dull achy pain of the eyes predominate. Again this has to do with the spatial connection between the nasal sinus passages and the eyes.

Impeded mucus drainage is the main culprit causing these sinusitis vision symptoms. The eyes have a natural connection to the nose through the nasolacrimal duct. It allows the eyes to secrete a watery liquid that coats the eyes and keeps it moist. This connection is why when you cry your nose runs, the tears can drain through the nasolacrimal duct.

In sinusitis the exit of the nasolacrimal duct is right next to two sinus entries. If the sinuses are inflamed and producing excessive mucus this duct can also become blocked impeding the normal flow of your tears. Thus your eyes become excessively moist and water. This leads to most sinusitis vision problems

The best thing to do is to quickly remove the excessive mucus production through irrigation techniques. Nettie pots are a great way to do this. Make sure to add in a little bit of salt to keep your nasal passages moist or you’ll notice a few minutes after using it, your mucus congestion will be worse.