Nystagmus: Classification, Causes & Symptoms

Table of Contents

The involuntary and repetitive eye movement making it nearly impossible for a person to keep the gaze fixed on any given object is termed as nystagmus. There’re two basic types namely:

  • Jerk nystagmus during which the eye makes a quick move only in a single direction whereas the other eye moves in the opposite.
  • Pendular nystagmus refers to movement of the eyes with equal velocity in each direction

Much like retinopathy of prematurity in Dubai, nystagmus is mostly infantile meaning that individual(s) can have it from a very early age. In fact, a survey concluded that every one of the many thousandth child has nystagmus.


  • Congenital nystagmus is present at the time of birth which is the condition during which eyes move together however, oscillate like pendulum movement. Most of the other types are classified as strabismus where both eyes usually don’t move in parallel.
  • Manifest & Latent: The manifest nystagmus is present all the time however, latent occurs only with a single eye.
  • Manifest-Latent nystagmus is present all along but worsens when only one eye takes the severe form.
  • Acquired nystagmus is caused by a particular disease or vision anomaly. These can be multiple sclerosis, tumour in the brain, diabetic neuropathy, a head injury, any particular neurological anomaly that can be a medicinal counter effect or even treatment such as retinopathy of prematurity.

Hyperventilation that is a sudden flash of light directly in front of one eye, unprecedented vibrations and overdose of nicotine are a few causes of nystagmus however all such happens infrequently. Some of the acquired forms of nystagmus can be cured via surgical procedure or medical treatment.

Causes & Symptoms

Unless induced by a disease or trauma, nystagmus is mostly the outcome of neurological problems and occurs among the individuals who’re born with the condition or show signs of development at a very early stage in life. That said, there’re two more classifications of nystagmus namely:

  • Optokinetic (eye related)
  • Vestibular (inner ear related)

Individuals having vestibular nystagmus can frequently jerk because eye motion with the condition develops vertigo and nausea. Although temporary, such can happen among the individuals already diagnosed with Meniere ’s disease  (inner ear disorder) or when water involuntarily accumulates in an ear. Taking prescribed form of decongestant can surely cure all such forms of acquired nystagmus.

All types of nystagmus are spontaneous which means it’s beyond an individual’s control. At times, infantile condition can improve slightly with adulthood however, can worsen with overtiredness and stress. Apart from vision anomalies, nystagmus can also compromise self-esteem as individuals facing the issue are constantly struggling to see things clearly which tends to have an obvious psychological impact.

In some cases, the condition worsens to a higher degree where an individual facing the condition is considered legally blind. Having nystagmus impacts the appearance of a person as well as the ability to see things and people as they are since eyes are constantly in a state of motion. There’re surgical treatments for the condition however the results are temporary after which the condition returns.