Nystagmus is a condition where the eyes move rapidly and uncontrollably. They can move:
side to side (horizontal nystagmus), up and down (vertical nystagmus), in a circle (rotary nystagmus)
The movement can vary between slow and fast and usually happens in both eyes.
The eyes may shake more when looking in certain directions. People with nystagmus may tilt or turn their head to see more clearly. This helps to slow down the eye movements.
In some cases, it is not clear why someone has nystagmus. In other cases, nystagmus may be related to other eye problems.
Nystagmus can be related to the following:
▪︎Having a family history of nystagmus
▪︎Albinism (lack of color, or pigmentation, in the skin)
▪︎A wide range of eye problems in infants/children, including cataracts, strabismus and focusing problems
▪︎Stroke (a common cause of acquired nystagmus in older people)
▪︎Head injury (a common cause of acquired nystagmus in younger people)
▪︎Use of certain medications, such as lithium or anti-seizure medications
▪︎Alcohol or drug use
The main symptom of nystagmus is rapid eye movement that cannot be controlled, in addition to rapid eye movement, nystagmus symptoms include:
▪︎Sensitivity to light
▪︎Difficulty seeing in the dark
▪︎Holding the head in a turned or tilted position
Treating nystagmus depends on the cause. People born with nystagmus cannot be cured of this condition. However, they may benefit from glasses or contact lenses. These do not fix the nystagmus, but having clearer vision can help slow the eye movements.
Sometimes, acquired nystagmus can go away. This happens if the condition that causes the nystagmus is treated. That can include treating a medical problem or stopping drug or alcohol use.
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