Nystagmus

What is nystagmus?

Nystagmus is involuntary eye movements that make the eyes look like they are shaking. 

What are the types/causes of nystagmus?

  • Nystagmus due to brain abnormalities - abnormal brain development and sometimes brain tumors can cause nystagmus. 
  • Nystagmus due to poor vision - poor vision due to congenital eye diseases can cause nystagmus. Common causes include optic nerve hypoplasia, albinism, and aniridia. 
  • Congenital motor nystagmus  - nystagmus in the setting of normal brain function and eye anatomy. 

What are the symptoms of nystagmus?

  • Eye “shaking” - can be horizontal (most common), vertical or diagonal
  • Decreased vision or visual function

How is nystagmus diagnosed?

Nystagmus is typically diagnosed following a complete history and eye examination. Based on the eye examination, your physician could recommend additional tests including a brain MRI, genetic testing, and electroretinogram. 

How is nystagmus treated?

In nystagmus due to brain abnormalities, treatment of the underlying cause is important. At this time, nystagmus due to congenital eye diseases and congenital motor nystagmus do not have specific treatments. In some cases, the nystagmus has a “relative null point” or a place where the eyes have the least amount of wiggling. If this location is not looking straight ahead, your child may want to keep his/her eyes in that position to maximize his/her vision. In this situation, eye muscle surgery may be done top help with the head position.