Simulation image of how Nystagmus affects vision. Scene is out of focus.

What is Nystagmus?

Nystagmus refers to rapid involuntary movements that may cause one or both eyes to move from side to side, up and down or around in circles.

These images give an impression of what someone with nystagmus may see compared to someone with normal vision.

Click below to download the full Accessible Fact Sheets for Nystagmus:

Accessible Word version (Word, 889KB) - Nystagmus 

Accessible PDF version (PDF, 89KB) - Nystagmus 

What is the cause?

Nystagmus is caused by an abnormal function in the areas of the brain that control eye movements. Nystagmus may be either present at birth or develop later in life.

What are the symptoms of nystagmus?

  • Blurred vision - because the eyes are always moving, vision is blurred.
  • Abnormal head posture - some people find that their eye movements reduce in certain positions. They may move their head to maintain this position. This can result in neck and shoulder problems.

How can it be treated?

  • Surgery - In rare cases eye muscle surgery can be performed which reduces the extent of the eye movement.
  • Null point training - Vision may be improved through null point training, where an eye care professional works with the person to train their eyes in the direction where vision is the clearest.
  • Magnifier - the use of a magnifier will enlarge print which can make it easier to read.
  • Postural – changes can be made to allow for viewing positions that reduce the nystagmus. For example, bringing reading material closer.

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