What Is Gaze-Evoked Tinnitus & Can You Treat It?

With it being Tinnitus week we thought there was no better time to raise awareness of gaze-evoked tinnitus (GET). To begin with, we will briefly discuss what tinnitus is and the different categorisations and then we will move on to GET and discuss how you can improve and in some cases treat the condition.

What is Tinnitus?

Usually, when someone mentions the word tinnitus the first thing to come to mind is ringing in one or both ears, but tinnitus is not always a ringing noise. Tinnitus can be high pitched, low pitched, or even sound like words. There are many kinds of tinnitus and oftentimes people are unaware they have the condition until they seek medical care for something else. Tinnitus is characterized by the presence of sound in the absence of an external source. A person who has tinnitus may feel as if a noise is coming from inside their head or that a noise is being made inside of their body.

Different Types Of Tinnitus

There are 4 main types of tinnitus which are categorised as subjective, objective, neurological, and somatic:

1. Subjective:

Subjective tinnitus is not necessarily the same as hearing a sound. One’s perception of the sound is not real, but rather something that they have perceived in their head. The perception may come and go even when there is no external source for it

2. Objective:

This type of tinnitus is usually referred to as ‘phantom’ or phantom tinnitus. Objective tinnitus is not really coming from inside the head but rather is due to abnormal activity in the ear or brain. It is usually described as a sound that comes from beside your body but can also be experienced as a head noise or ringing.

3. Neurological:

This kind of tinnitus may not be caused by an ear problem and may not even be associated with hearing loss, but may be caused by injury to the nerve that sends signals from the ear to the brain.

4. Somatic:

Somatic tinnitus is less common and is associated with some type of physical trigger such as muscle spasms or injuries to the neck or back.

Gaze-Evoked Tinnitus

Gaze-evoked tinnitus falls under the somatic categorisation of tinnitus and is caused by eye movement. It can cause the ringing, or any other tinnitus sound, to occur with or modulated by, horizontal and or vertical eye deviation from a neutral head position. One such sufferer of this condition was quoted as saying on a forum post on Acoustic Neuroma Association

“I have a constant static tinnitus noise as I am sure a lot of you have too. I noticed the pitch of the noise changes with my eye movements. This sounds weird but if I move my eyes back and forth different sounds/pitches are in my head. It is like someone hits a tuning fork as I move my eyes.”

It was once thought that gaze-evoked tinnitus was quite a rare condition however further studies have shown this not to be the case with the condition being more common than previously thought.

Treating Gaze-Evoked Tinnitus

Although there is no official cure for gaze-evoked tinnitus a patient at the Tinnitus Research Group of the University of São Paulo School of Medicine who suffered from the condition was reportedly cured after 12 weeks of repetitive stimuli, based on neuroplasticity principles. The woman in question was simply asked to perform a series of simple eye movements that would cause her tinnitus and over time this repetition lead to her condition improving week on week until 3 months later the patient reported being cured with no reoccurrence. If you would like to learn more about this case study please click here.