Back and forth eye movements; Involuntary eye movements; Rapid eye movements from side to side; Uncontrolled eye movements; Eye movements - uncontrollable
There is no therapy for most cases of congenital nystagmus. Availability of treatment for acquired nystagmus will vary with the cause. In most cases, except for those caused by Dilantin or alcohol intoxication, nystagmus is irreversible.
Call your health care provider if
Call your health care provider if nystagmus is detected or suspected.
What to expect at your health care provider's office
Nystagmus may be observed through the following procedure: If the affected person spins around for about 30 seconds, stops, and tries to stare at an object, the eyes will first move slowly in one direction, then move rapidly in the opposite direction. If you have nystagmus due to a medical condition, these eye movements depend on the underyling cause.
Your health care provider will take a careful history and perform a thorough physical examination, which will emphasize the nervous system and inner ear. The doctor may ask you to wear a pair of goggles that magnify the eyes for part of the neurological examination.
Questions asked in a medical history may cover the following areas:
- When was it first noticed?
- How often does it occur?
- Has it ever happened before?
- Is it getting better, worse, or staying the same?
- Are there side-to-side eye movements?
- Are there up-and-down eye movements?
- What medications are being taken?
- What other symptoms are present?
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
CT scanof the head or MRIof the head
- Electro-oculography: An electrical method of measuring eye movements using tiny electrodes.
- Vestibular testing – recording the movements of the eyes and response to caloric stimulation
There is no therapy for most cases of congenital nystagmus. Treatment for acquired nystagmus depends on the cause. In some cases, nystagmus is irreversible. In cases due to medications or infection, the nystagmus usually goes away after the initial cause has resolved.
Review Date: 03/26/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.