Nystagmus: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options


Nystagmus is a condition that affects the eyes, causing them to move involuntarily. This can result in a variety of symptoms, including blurred vision, dizziness, and difficulty focusing. In this guide, we’ll explore the causes of nystagmus, as well as the available treatment options for managing this condition.

What is Nystagmus?

Nystagmus is a condition that causes involuntary eye movements, which can be rapid, jerky, or oscillatory. These movements can occur in any direction, including side-to-side, up-and-down, or circular. It can affect one or both eyes, and can be present at birth or develop later in life. The severity can vary widely, from mild to severe, and can have a significant impact on a person’s vision and quality of life.

Types of Nystagmus

There are several types of nystagmus, including congenital nystagmus, acquired one, and periodic alternating one. Congenital nystagmus is present at birth and is often caused by a genetic mutation. Acquired one can develop later in life and may be caused by various factors, including neurological conditions, medications, or alcohol use. Periodic alternating one is a rare form that causes the eyes to oscillate back and forth in a regular pattern. Understanding the type has is important for determining the appropriate treatment options.


Nystagmus can be caused by a variety of factors, including neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, or stroke. It can also be caused by medications, such as anticonvulsants or antipsychotics, or by alcohol or drug use. In some cases, it may be a symptom of an underlying condition, such as Meniere’s disease or inner ear infections. A genetic mutation often causes congenital nystagmus. Understanding the underlying cause is important for determining the appropriate treatment options.

Nystagmus is a common symptom of ataxia, a neurological disorder that affects coordination and balance. However, other eye movements abnormalities such as oculomotor apraxia, supranuclear gaze palsy, impaired fixation, or saccadic pursuit can also be present and aid in the diagnosis of specific types of ataxia, such as ataxia with oculomotor apraxia, Niemann-Pick type C, or ataxia telangiectasia.

Symptoms of Nystagmus

The most obvious symptom is involuntary eye movements, which can be horizontal, vertical, or rotary. These movements can be constant or intermittent and may be more noticeable when the person is tired or stressed. Other symptoms may include blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and difficulty with depth perception. In some cases, nystagmus may also cause dizziness or nausea. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see an eye doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Treatment options

Treatment options depend on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. In some cases, treatment may not be necessary if the nystagmus is mild and does not significantly impact vision or daily activities. However, if the nystagmus is severe or causing vision problems, treatment options may include corrective lenses, medication, or surgery. Vision therapy and other forms of rehabilitation may also be helpful in improving eye movements and reducing symptoms. It’s important to work with an eye doctor or specialist to determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs.