Nystagmus: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Can you imagine having no control over your eyes’ movement? Scary right? Some people are born with this vision problem or develop it in early childhood, which is called nystagmus.

Nystagmus is a vision disorder where eyes wobble continuously from side to side (horizontal nystagmus), up & down (vertical nystagmus), or in a circular motion (rotary nystagmus). There are two types of nystagmus that usually affect both eyes, and the movement may be either fast or slow. When you try to focus on certain things, your eyes start shaking more. People with nystagmus try tilting their heads to see objects more clearly, which slows down their eye movements.

Read here to learn more about nystagmus cause, types of nystagmus, symptoms, and treatment options.

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What are the Types of Nystagmus? 

Nystagmus mostly affects children at a young age. Here are the two types of nystagmus:

1. Congenital Nystagmus

Children with congenital nystagmus have this problem right from birth, and the symptoms start reflecting between six weeks and three months of age. In this condition, babies have this problem in both eyes that move side to side.

Some children get this vision condition from their parents, but doctors do not clarify the nystagmus cause. The main symptom of this difficulty is blurry vision.

2. Acquired Nystagmus

Acquired nystagmus develops at later ages, and an underlying health condition or drugs may be the nystagmus cause. Unlike congenital nystagmus, you observe shaky vision in this condition.

What Causes Nystagmus? 

Several reasons trigger nystagmus in children and young adults. Nystagmus cause can be associated with the following:

  • Stroke
  • Head trauma
  • Retina or optic nerve disorders
  • Meniere’s disease (inner ear conditions)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Albinism (lack of pigmentation in the skin)
  • Strabismus (crossed eyes) or cataract
  • Alcohol intake or drug ingestion

These factors can trigger your vision difficulty and turn into a nystagmus cause. Your brain controls your eyes’ movement; your eyes move and adjust when you move your head. This helps you see objects more clearly. In people with nystagmus, the brain doesn’t function properly and has no control over your eyes’ movement, causing wobbly eyes.

So, how will you identify if you have developed nystagmus? Let’s talk about its common symptoms.

Symptoms of Nystagmus

Nystagmus can mark a significant effect on both of your eyes and here are its symptoms:

  • Shaky or blurry vision
  • No control over eye movements
  • Dizziness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Night-time vision difficulty

Do you observe any of these symptoms? If yes, you can book your consultation at Dr Agarwals Eye Hospital for effective medication and treatment options. Now, let’s understand the tests and the process of examining nystagmus.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Nystagmus?

When you visit Dr Agarwals Eye Hospital, our eye specialists examine your eyes individually and test your vision. Before concluding any treatment option, they identify symptoms of nystagmus or any underlying eye condition. This may include strabismus (misaligned eyes), cataracts (clouding of the eye lens), or a problem with the retina or optic nerve.

Nystagmus is diagnosed by performing the following tests:

1. Neurological Examination

Eye specialists conduct this examination to clarify the clinical lesion within the cerebellum (a part of the brain at the back of your head).

2. Eye-Movement Recordings

In this, the test helps identify the eyes’ movements, and the waveforms of eye movements are recorded with a test called videonystagmography.

3. An Ear Exam

This test is performed to identify the involuntary movement of your eyes.

4. Imaging Tests

Doctors perform imaging tests like computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to get pictures of your brain.

There is one more test to identify nystagmus: Your eye specialist may ask you to spin around for 30 seconds and then stop. If your eyes move slowly in one direction and switch to another, it indicates nystagmus.

How is Nystagmus Treated?

After a detailed analysis of your vision problem, our doctors recommend different treatment options. From distinct types of nystagmus, our doctors identify your type and implement the best approach for you.

For nystagmus treatment in children, it is imperative to understand that there is no option to treat it completely, but doctors can help mitigate the symptoms.

Depending on the types of nystagmus, cause, underlying eye conditions, medical history, and personal preferences, here are some treatment options for nystagmus:

1. Medications

Doctors may prescribe certain medication for treating nystagmus in adults, which includes baclofen (muscle relaxant) or gabapentin (antiseizure). However, these medications are not recommended for children.

2. Eyeglasses or Contact Lenses

To help mitigate nystagmus symptoms, correction glasses are an effective option that balances your eye movements.

3. Eye Muscle Surgery

Eye muscle surgery is performed in rare instances. In this process, eye specialists relocate the muscles responsible for your eye’s movement. This method allows you to comfort your head and manage wobbling eyes.

Remember, these treatment options only help you reduce vision difficulty due to nystagmus but don’t eradicate this problem.

Vision problems like nystagmus interfere with your everyday chores and bring additional health problems. Two types of nystagmus are observed – congenital and acquired, and so far, there is no definite nystagmus cause but stroke, head injury, multiple sclerosis, and strabismus are some common conditions with which it is associated.

You must contact eye specialists if you observe symptoms like dizziness, light sensitivity, or blurred vision. Dr Agarwals Eye Hospital has highly qualified professionals who provide comprehensive treatment for nystagmus and other vision problems.

To seek effective treatment, schedule your appointment with them today!

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