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Nystagmus: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

People who have nystagmus are unable to control their eye movements. Their eyes move in an uncontrollable up-and-down, side-to-side, or circular motion. Nystagmus can be inherited from your parents or caused by another medical condition. The condition can be treated with glasses, contact lenses, or, in rare cases, surgery.

What exactly is nystagmus?

Nystagmus (ni-stag-muhs) is a condition in which your eyes move rapidly, repetitively, and uncontrollably — for example, up and down (vertical nystagmus), side to side (horizontal nystagmus), or in a circle (rotary nystagmus). These eye movements can impair vision, depth perception, balance, and coordination.

Who is afflicted by nystagmus?

Nystagmus can affect both children and adults. There are two kinds: congenital and acquired.

Congenital nystagmus

Babies with this condition begin to show symptoms between the ages of six weeks and three months. This type of nystagmus is congenital, which means it is present from birth. In some cases, it is passed down to children from their parents, but the exact cause is not always known. Congenital nystagmus usually affects both eyes in children. The main symptom is blurry vision.

Acquired nystagmus

In contrast to congenital nystagmus, acquired nystagmus appears later in life. An underlying health condition or drugs are usually to blame for the condition. The vision of adults with acquired nystagmus is described as “shaky.”

Is nystagmus common?

One in every 1,000 people suffers from nystagmus.

Is nystagmus a serious disease?

Nystagmus is not considered dangerous in and of itself. However, it has been linked to serious health conditions, particularly those involving the brain, such as stroke, brain tumour, toxicity, head trauma, and inflammatory diseases.

What are the signs and symptoms of nystagmus?
The symptoms of nystagmus can affect one or both eyes. The following are some of the most common warning signs:

Eye movement that is uncontrollable.
Vision that is shaky or blurry.
Problems with balance.
Dizziness.
Sensitivity to light.
Problems with night vision.
You may hold your head in a tilted or turned position if you have nystagmus. When you can’t keep your gaze steady, this improves focus and makes things appear clearer.

What causes nystagmus?

Your eye movement is controlled by your brain. When you move your head, your eyes adjust automatically. This stabilises the image and improves visibility. The areas of the brain that control eye movements do not function properly in people who have nystagmus.

Nystagmus could be an indication of another eye problem or a symptom of another medical condition. The following are some of the causes and risk factors for nystagmus:

● Retina or optic nerve disorders.
● Underdeveloped control over eye movements.
● Inner ear conditions, such as Meniere’s disease.
● Stroke.
● Head trauma.
● Diseases of the central nervous system.
● Albinism (lack of pigmentation in the skin).
● Multiple sclerosis (MS).
● Certain medications, such as antiseizure drugs.
● Eye problems in babies, including strabismus (crossed eyes), cataracts and focusing problems.
● Alcohol or drug use.
How is nystagmus identified?

An ophthalmologist will usually diagnose nystagmus. They will examine your eyes, test your vision, and ask about your symptoms. They will also look for other eye problems that may be related to nystagmus, such as strabismus, cataracts, or retinal or optic nerve issues.

What tests will be performed to determine the cause of nystagmus?

Other nystagmus tests that your ophthalmologist may perform include:

A neurological examination is required.
Recordings of eye movements
An ear examination.
CT scans and MRIs are imaging tests that take pictures of your brain.

Another common nystagmus test is to spin for 30 seconds and then stop. Your Doctor will then direct your attention to an object. Your eyes will move slowly in one direction and quickly in the other if you have nystagmus.

Is it possible to correct nystagmus?

When the underlying condition is addressed, acquired nystagmus can sometimes be corrected. If nystagmus is caused by an inner ear condition, for example, symptoms may resolve once the condition is treated. Congenital nystagmus cannot be completely cured, but symptoms can be managed with proper treatment.

What nystagmus treatments are available?

There are several nystagmus treatments available. The best approach for you is determined by the cause of your condition, your medical history, and your personal preferences.

Contact lenses or glasses

Clearer vision can help to slow the rapid eye movements that accompany nystagmus. As a result, eyeglasses or contact lenses can be used to successfully manage symptoms.

Medications

Adults can benefit from medications such as gabapentin (antiseizure), baclofen (muscle relaxant), and onabotulinumtoxina (Botox®). These medications are not prescribed to children who have nystagmus.

Muscle surgery on the eyes

In rare cases, eye muscle surgery may be advised. Your surgeon will reposition the muscles that move the eyes during this procedure. This surgery does not cure nystagmus, but it does allow you to keep your head in a more comfortable position, limiting eye movement.

Surgery for vision correction
If you have nystagmus and are nearsighted, laser vision correction surgery like LASIK may help. Although laser eye surgery does not cure nystagmus, it does improve vision. As a result, symptoms of nystagmus may be reduced.

How can I prevent nystagmus?
Currently, there is no way to prevent nystagmus. But you can reduce troublesome symptoms by treating the underlying cause.

What should I do if I have nystagmus?

Nystagmus can make everyday tasks more difficult. It may even limit the types of jobs and hobbies you can pursue in some cases. Nystagmus is rarely completely gone, but it can improve over time. Your healthcare provider can assist you in locating a treatment that is effective for you.

When should I make an appointment with my doctor?

If you notice any changes in your vision or other symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Keep in mind that nystagmus can be associated with serious health problems, so prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential. If you have already been diagnosed with nystagmus, notify your Doctor, if your symptoms worsen.
Dr Kamdar Eye Hospital’s doctors are experts in LASIK, cataract, cornea, retina, and glaucoma treatments.The hospital has cutting-edge medical facilities and the most experienced ophthalmologists.
Our aim is to assist you in realising your best vision. For more information or to make an appointment with a consultant, please call or visit Dr. Kamdar Eye Hospital.

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