Nystagmus types and treatments

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People with nystagmus have difficulty in focusing their eyes on an object or person. Their eyes always look involuntarily from one side to the other, up and down or sometimes jerk. Nystagmus patients experience regularly alternating smooth pursuit in one direction and saccadic movement in the other direction. Another fact is that many blind individuals have nystagmus, which explains their regular use of dark glasses. Today, nystagmus is estimated to affect one out of several thousand children, usually from an early age. According to different reasons, there are mainly pathologic nystagmus and physiologic nystagmus. When it comes to the latter type, some police officers take the testing for horizontal gaze nystagmus as a battery of field sobriety tests, which can determine whether a suspect is driving after alcohol consumption.

Basic features of common nystagmuses

There are many types of nystagmuses. Congenital nystagmus occurs to some new-born infants. The eyes of a baby who suffers from this type of nystagmus may move together or uncoordinatedly. Manifest nystagmus is present at all times whereas latent nystagmus occurs only when one eye is covered. Manifest-latent nystagmus lasts at all times, but worsens when one eye is covered. Acquired nystagmus can be caused by diseases, accidents or neurological problems. Other potential contributing factors include hyperventilation, nicotine and even vibrations.

Visual and other consequences of nystagmuses

Most types of nystagmuses are born or develop in children’s early lives. People with nystagmus can not control their eyes and their vision and self-concept will be affected. People with sweeping eyes are impossible to acquire clear images so that many nystagmus patients have severe vision problems. Nystagmus patients just see objects in a way that is profoundly different from other normal individuals so that their appearances are affected. It is also important for nystagmus patients to deal with personal and social consequences, since their relation with other people, educational and work opportunities can also be under influence.

Two kinds of neurological disorder related nystagmuses

Except for disease and trauma-related reasons, most nystagmuses are caused by neurological problems. Optokinetic nystagmus and vestibular nystagmus are two basic types. Vestibular nystagmus is always associated with inner ear problems. And Optokinetic nystagmus is eye related. People with vestibular nystagmus have jerking eyes and may suffer from nausea and vertigo. Decongestant is a possible treatment.

Various ways to treat nystagmuses

Regular eye exams are particularly important and necessary for nystagmus patients, in order to get their vision and ocular health monitored. For light nystagmuses, eyeglasses and contact lenses can provide better vision, while the latter type is more competent. Surgical treatments can reduce null positions, lessen head tilt and improve cosmetic appearance, while drugs such as Botox reduce some nystagmic movements.