Nystagmus, often called "dancing eyes", is an eye condition which causes uncontrolled, rapid, jerky, movement of the eyes, usually from side to side, but sometimes up and down or in a circular motion. Most people with nystagmus have poor vision. It causes problems in education, employment and many social situations. Nystagmus cannot be fixed by spectacles or contact lenses, although many people with nystagmus wear glasses or contact lenses to correct other eye problems.
Causes of Nystagmus
There are two types of Nystagmus. The first is Infantile Nystagmus Syndrome (INS) which some people have at birth. The second type is known as acquired nystagmus which has a number of causes including:
- Drugs, especially sedatives
- Head injury
- Inner ear problems like labyrinthitis or Meniere's disease
- Thiamine deficiency
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Diseases that can affect the brain's control of the eyes such as a tumor, or multiple sclerosis.
Features of nystagmus
- People with nystagmus do not normally see the world as moving, but they do occasionally.
- They have poor distance vision, but most have good close vision.
- Nystagmus is not painful.
- Between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 2000 people have nystagmus.
- Nystagmus can be hereditary, but it can also be a result of something else.
- Most people with nystagmus can see well enough to drive an automobile
- Nystagmus does not get worse with age.
Treatments and research
There are currently no cures for nystagmus, but UK Nystagmus Network supports and encourages medical and other research into this complex condition. Research is ongoing with a number of universities leading the way.
- "Nystagmus: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia". nlm.nih.gov. 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2012.