What is uncontrolled eye movement (nystagmus)?
When the eyes move without the affected person being able to influence this, it is referred to as uncontrolled eye movement or trembling of the eyes. The medical terms is nystagmus.
This trembling may start suddenly or be congenital since birth. In the latter case, those affected do not feel this trembling, but merely notice blurred vision. The nystagmus movement is usually expressed as a horizontal or rotatory beat, very rarely as a vertical one.
The causes must be taken seriously
Except for the congenital form, the causes of nystagmus are not negligible. Most often, nystagmus is the result of a serious medical problem, such as alcohol or drug abuse, neurological disease (multiple sclerosis), ear disease, craniocerebral injury, overdose of specific medications or resulting intoxication, stroke, or uncontrolled diabetes. Immediate ophthalmologic or specialist clarification is therefore essential.
How to recognise nystagmus?
Those affected will notice nystagmus trembling immediately upon onset. Certain head postures often improve or worsen symptoms. Vision is usually reduced and the world is constantly moving.
The ophthalmologist will first do tests to clarify whether it is an eye problem. Neurologists and ENT specialists will often have to be called in quickly. Almost always, an additional MRI must be performed by a radiologist to determine the exact cause and initiate the best possible treatment.
The genetic disorder
Those affected by congenital nystagmus require good optical care by means of glasses or contact lenses. In rare cases, the trembling can be minimized with eye muscle surgery. However, this congenital disorder cannot be healed completely. Those suffering from very severe defective vision often benefit from refractive surgery. You can find more information about this in my blog article on Laser Surgeries and Life without Glasses.
Children need special reading materials as well as an appropriate working distance at school and at home.
An individual consultation with the affected child is very helpful for his or her optimal development and support. We will be happy to advise you at our practice at Zurich Bellevue. Our competent team is also here for you in emergencies. Call us on +41 44 261 70 10 to make an appointment.