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Congenital Nystagmus

What is congenital nystagmus? 

Congenital nystagmus is a condition that affects the vision. It causes uncontrollable movements, which can reduce vision and depth perception. They also have the potential to affect balance and coordination. The congenital version of nystagmus simply means that it is noticed very early in life, typically within the first three months of birth. 

There are other forms of nystagmus: spasmus nutans and acquired. 

What are the symptoms of congenital nystagmus?

In congenital nystagmus the eyes move in a horizontal swinging pattern. People may move their heads in abnormal manners to try to make up for the eye movements. Balance, coordination, vision, and depth perception are affected.

What causes congenital nystagmus?

Nystagmus is often the result of another condition, typically a neurological problem. Possible causes include:

  • Albinism
  • Issues with the development of eye movement control very early in life
  • High refractive error
  • Congenital cataracts
  • Inflammation of the inner ear
  • Certain medications
  • Diseases of the central nervous system

How is congenital nystagmus diagnosed?

An eye exam is the best way to diagnose this condition. Visual acuity measurements should be taken, as well as a refraction. Doctors should also test how the eyes work and move together.

Patient history should also be taken, as other conditions could be the underlying reason for congenital nystagmus. 

What are the treatments for congenital nystagmus?

Corrective lenses will not cure congenital nystagmus, but they can help to improve vision. Other means, such as better lighting and magnifying devices, may also be helpful. In very rare cases surgery is performed to change the positions of muscles that play a role in eye movement, but this is not a cure.

Treating the underlying cause of nystagmus is another option for treatment. 

Where can I find out more about congenital nystagmus?

Congenital Nystagmus Articles