What is Nystagmus?

There is a common assumption that if you have issues with your eyesight, that the wearing of glasses or contact lenses will always help to correct things.

However, certain visual conditions cannot be simply corrected, such as with Nystagmus.

Nystagmus is a condition where the eyes ‘flicker’ and constantly move involuntarily, so creating a disturbed perception as well as being associated with reduced levels of vision.

Nystagmus comes in two forms – Congenital Nystagmus and Acquired Nystagmus.

Congenital Nystagmus is noticed in early childhood, whether this be pretty much straight from birth or in the first formative years. While certain health issues and disabilities can cause the condition, it can also arise purely as something that has happened due to the eye or the link to the brain not forming correctly. Sometimes there is just no obvious reason.

Acquired nystagmus occurs usually in adulthood and is often the result of a neurological deficit such as having a stroke, head injury, multiple sclerosis or similar.

For children with Nystagmus, early intervention brings best results, but this is purely in the form of encouraging stimulation to exercise the eye and muscles. As children grow, they often find a way of coping and compensating for any health issues and more often than not this is the case with Nystagmus. Children will often tilt their heads to one side to create the best position for optimum vision. This is known as the null point and it is at this point where vision and movement are at their best.

Children’s eyes continue to grow up until the age of around seven, so often glasses are not used unless there is significant sight loss, but this can mean that people around the child are not aware that there is a sight issue occurring. As the child continues to grow, it usually becomes necessary for a prescription to be issued, meaning that glasses and contact lenses become part of life. This can be a welcome time, when at long last people can quite literally see that there is a problem with the eyes.

When it comes to Acquired Nystagmus, glasses and sometimes even medication are used to treat the condition. Whilst there is no cure for Nystagmus, trying the different types of visual aids available along with innovative personal methods are often the only way to move forward.

Whilst research continues to look into possible cures for Nystagmus, when it comes to contact lenses and glasses, there is a current rule of thought that wearing lenses may indeed help to slow the eyeball movements down, creating a small yet definite barrier that means the eyes cannot potentially move as freely as before.