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Eye and Ear related symptoms

Dr Tatu's_TMJ-45.jpg

Abnormal Ear conditions may need a TMD specialist to work with the ENT.

The ear is probably the most proximal to the TM joint and thereby the most integratory organ by means of cartilage, bone, muscles, and ligaments. It is then only typical that both these units cause an integrated system of symptoms that intertwine with each other. The following are a few conditions that present in the ear but are mostly caused by a TMD.

Ear pain and ear stuffiness and itchiness

The moment you feel unexplained pain occurring in the ear region, an ENT is consulted and medicines are taken as prescribed. If the pain persists and if it is of a dull aching type that worsens with jaw movement, it must be understood that your ear is just a few millimeters away from the TMJ. So, a TMJ disorder will reflect in the region of your ears as pain, stuffiness, or even a feeling of itchiness inside your ears.

  • Meniere's disease: Tinnitus can be an early indicator of Meniere's disease, an inner ear disorder that may be caused by abnormal inner ear fluid pressure. Meniere's disease is a disorder that affects the inner ear which is responsible for hearing and balance. The condition causes vertigo, the sensation of spinning. It also leads to hearing problems and a ringing sound in the ear. Meniere's disease usually can be seen in TMD patients as a result of the proximity of the ear to the TMJ and various muscular and ligamentous connections with the inner ear Most of the time a TMJ specialist can successfully treat it. However, an ENT diagnosis and evaluation are mandatory before we treat Meniere's disease.

  • Eustachian tube dysfunction: In this condition, the tube in your ear connecting the middle ear to your upper throat remains expanded all the time, which can make your ear feel full. Loss of a significant amount of weight, TMD, pregnancy, and radiation therapy can sometimes cause this type of dysfunction.

  • Muscle spasms in the inner ear: Muscles in the inner ear can tense up (spasm), which can result in tinnitus, hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness in the ear. This sometimes happens for no explainable reason, but can also be caused by neurologic diseases, including multiple sclerosis

  • Referred pain: From the neck and muscles of mastication pain may be referred to the ear, in such situations the ENT surgeons do not find any abnormality with the ear, but may ask/evaluate you for a TM joint dysfunction.

  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ear):The TMJ is anatomically situated quite close to the ears and both these structures have cervical and facial muscles, ligaments and nerves commonly shared between them. Due to this, problems that arise in the muscles and structures associated with the joint can lead to a hissing or buzzing sound within the ears called tinnitus.

  • Abnormal Eye conditions which may need a TMD specialist to work with the Ophthalmologist/Eye specialist

Due to the Muscular and ligamental integrity of all the organs, the most common complaint that we see in the eye area from a TMD is the pain around the eye and deep in the socket. The Eye specialist would categorize such pain as referred from elsewhere. Such pain is generally referred to from the muscles of the neck and masticatory muscles and teeth.

Pain and pressure behind the eye/Blurry vision/Watery eyes

TMDs can cause eye symptoms like pain behind the eyes, blurry vision, watery eyes, and eye strain. This occurs because of a medical phenomenon known as "referred pain" where the source of damage might be at one site but the sensation of pain is felt elsewhere due to cross-connections between the nearby nerves. Thus, a strained neck muscle due to a TMD can refer pain to in the region around your eye

Sensitivity to light (Photosensitivity)

Many TMD patients complain of frequent headaches and sensitivity to light and are often misdiagnosed as migraines. Muscles associated with our TMJ are supplied by the trigeminal nerve from which a branch also supplies the eye and the muscles of the eye. Hence strain in these muscles due to a TMD can often affect these branches resulting in vision problems like sensitivity to light.


Other common complaints associated with TMD-causing vision problems includes:

  • Blurry vision.

  • Difficulty to read.

  • Droopy eyelids.

  • Eye strain.

  • Floaters, or moving spots in your vision.

  • Pressure behind the eyes.

  • Sensitivity to light.

  • Watery eyes.

It is easy to diagnose the difference by observing if any of the features of a TMD are associated with any of these symptoms.

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