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What is Nystagmus?

Nystagmus is also widely called as wobbly eyes, refers to to-and-fro unintended, involuntary movements of the eye.

Symptoms of Nystagmus Eyes

There are several symptoms of nystagmus, for instance, you will notice the child to have wobbly eyes. Another nystagmus symptom is that the child may attain a particularly preferred head posture to see things, as this is the position in which nystagmus gets dampened. Do not discourage your child from doing the same.

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Causes of Nystagmus Eyes

Nystagmus can be congenital, i.e. since birth or acquired. Nystagmus that is present since birth is referred to as idiopathic infantile nystagmus or infantile nystagmus syndrome (INS). Though INS can happen along with sensory problems with your vision (like optic nerve or retina problems), it is not directly caused by these. INS is caused by instability in the eye-movement control system.

Researchers have found a gene (called Xp11.4 – p11.3) to be related to a few types of INS. INS can be a disorder that runs in families where the “nystagmus gene” is usually carried from the mother to her son.

Acquired causes could be related to some drug ingestion, alcohol intake, ear disease, neurological or due to trauma.


Tests for Nystagmus

Nystagmus can be diagnosed clinically. However, waveforms may be recorded with a test called videonystagmography.

Treatment for Nystagmus Eyes

When it comes to nystagmus treatment, it is imperative to remember that currently, infantile nystagmus syndrome cannot be completely cured but can be helped. The current treatment modalities help in reducing the abnormal head posture with improved visual function and cosmetic benefit in reducing the wobbly movements of the eyes.

The nystagmus treatment modalities include medications in certain forms of nystagmus (mainly acquired nystagmus), prisms, and contact lenses and are mainly surgical with procedures done on the extra-ocular muscles.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the different types of nystagmus?

Depending upon the onset of the condition, there are two types of nystagmus:

  • Congenital Nystagmus or Early-onset Nystagmus: This type of nystagmus eye occurs between 0-6 months of age. Usually, in congenital nystagmus, pendular movements are noticeable with strikingly low vision.
  • Acquired Nystagmus or Late-Onset Nystagmus: This type of nystagmus eye surfaces beyond the age of six months.

Rapid involuntary eye movement symptoms are caused by a medical eye condition called nystagmus. In this disease, the eye makes uncontrolled, repetitive and rapid movements that often result in reduced vision that can affect the coordination and balance of the eyes.


These involuntary eye movements can occur from different directions like up and down, circular motion, or side to side. Primarily, there are 3 forms of nystagmus eye. Below, we have delved into them one by one:


  • Acquired- This type of nystagmus develops in adulthood or in the later stages of childhood.
  • Infantile- This type of nystagmus develops between 0-2 months.
  • Spasmus nutans- This type of nystagmus eye occurs between the age bracket of 6 months to 3 years. However, one good thing about this age is that it improves on its own between the age of 2 and 8.

As mentioned above, there are various types of nystagmus eyes depending upon the eye movements and the age at which it develops. In vertical nystagmus, there are involuntary and rapid eye movements in the down beating or up beating direction, which is why it is referred to as ‘vertical’.

On the other hand, in horizontal nystagmus, the eye movements are from side to side. There are several causes of horizontal nystagmus like stroke, optic nerve disorders, lack of pigmentation in the skin, and more.

In patients with nystagmus, specific areas of the brain that are responsible for controlling eye movements do not function properly. However, in many cases, the nystagmus eye condition can indicate different eye problems, or it can also be associated with a totally separate medical condition that might be related to the eye. Retina nerve disorders, multiple sclerosis, head trauma, and Meniere’s disease are some of the many nystagmus causes.

In layperson terms, biofeedback therapy trains people to voluntarily control certain physiological processes like muscle tension, blood pressure, and heart rate. According to recent studies, biofeedback techniques can prove to be useful in helpful for nystagmus patients to regain control of their rapid eye movements.


In several cases, this innovative technique is used in conjunction with other techniques and therapies that also help with increased anxiety and stress levels.


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