What Is Nystagmus?
Nystagmus is a condition in which the eyes make involuntary, repetitive movements, causing visual difficulty. The eye movements may occur from side to side, up and down, or in a circular pattern.
Forms of nystagmus include:
- Spasmus nutans
- Tends to occur between 6 months to 3 years of age
- Improves on its own between 2 to 8 years of age
- Eyes can move in any direction
- Usually does not require treatment
- Develops later in childhood or adulthood
- The cause is frequently unknown
What Are Symptoms of Nystagmus?
Symptoms of nystagmus include:
- Involuntary, uncontrolled eye movements
- Movement may occur in one or both eyes
- Movement may be up or down, side to side, or circular
- Movement may be slow or fast
- Objects may appear shaky (oscillopsia)
- Blurred vision
- Nighttime vision problems
- Sensitivity to light
- Vertigo (spinning sensation)
- Balance problems
- Abnormal head positions
What Causes Nystagmus?
Causes of nystagmus include:
- Underdeveloped eye movement control early in life
- Refractive error vision problems such as nearsightedness (myopia) or astigmatism
- Congenital cataracts
- Crossed eyes (strabismus)
- Inflammation of the inner ear
- Certain medications
- Central nervous system diseases
- A family history of nystagmus
- Inner ear problems, such as Meniere’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Stroke (a common cause in older people)
- Head injury/trauma (a common cause in younger people)
- Alcohol or drug use
How Is Nystagmus Diagnosed?
Nystagmus is diagnosed with a patient history and a comprehensive eye exam. Testing for nystagmus may include:
- Visual acuity measurements
- Refraction (nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism)
- Testing how the eyes focus, move and work together
Since nystagmus is often caused by other medical conditions, and additional testing to determine the underlying cause may include:
What Is the Treatment for Nystagmus?
There is no cure for nystagmus in people who are born with the condition. Treatment for these patients may involve glasses or contact lenses which do not fix the nystagmus, but clearer vision can help slow eye movements.
Treatment for nystagmus depends on the type and may include:
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