Non-surgical Treatments for Nystagmus:: Rebecca McLean

How to Control Nystagmus

Six Parts:

Nystagmus is the involuntary, rapid movement of one or both eyes. It is often the result of dizziness or swift body movement. Nystagmus can also be related to consequences of a medical condition or head trauma.


Understanding the Condition and the Characteristics

  1. Explain the condition.Nystagmus is a vision condition involving uncontrollable movements of the eyes. The eye movement is involuntary and can present as a jerking movement side to side, in a circular motion, or up and down. Often to compensate, those with this condition may be noticed to unknowingly hold their head at awkward angles, to compensate for their vision issue. Nystagmus is typically a symptom of a more complex eye condition or medical condition such as a vestibular (balance) disease. Though fatigue or stress can aggravate symptoms, there is, as yet, no known cause for nystagmus.
  2. Recognize the characteristics.Nystagmus can take on two forms: congenital and acquired.
    • Congenital nystagmusbegins in infancy and is possibly inherited genetically from a parent. Childhood nystagmus is typically involves both eyes and displays as a side-to-side movement. Children with this condition will see things as blurry.
      • Manifest nystagmuswill appear constantly in a child's vision.
      • Latent nystagmusonly appears if you cover one eye.
      • Manifest-latent nystagmusappears constantly in a child's vision, but will worsen if one eye is covered.
    • Acquired nystagmusoccurs later in life. While children describe their vision as blurry, adults describe their vision as shaky.

Exploring Relative Causes and Conditions

  1. Acknowledge the causes.There are a number of circumstances that can explain the onset of acquired nystagmus. It can be:
    • genetically passed from a parent, as with congenital nystagmus.
    • related to an eye condition, such as cataracts or strabismus (abnormally-aligned eyes).
    • the result of a head injury.
    • involve an inner ear condition.
    • the result a lack of pigment in the skin (albinism).
    • a reaction to prescription medications such as seizure medications or use of lithium.
    • insome casesthe cause of nystagmus remains a mystery.
  2. Recognize relative conditions.There are known to be 13 conditions that can potentially cause nystagmus in a patient. By narrowing down symptoms, the physician is better able to ascertain if one of these conditions may be the root cause:
    • Anintracerebral hemorrhageis when blood tears into brain tissue, causing brain damage. Symptoms of nystagmus occurs suddenly in this instance.This is an emergency situation and urgent medical attention may be necessary!
    • Alcohol withdrawal syndromecan be a result of a heavy drinker drastically reducing or abruptly stopping the consuming of alcohol. Again,this is an emergency situation and urgent medical attention may be necessary!
    • Meniere's diseaseis a condition of the inner ear. Though the cause of the disease is unknown, treatment can assist in controlling the symptoms.
    • Myasthenia gravisresults in the weakness of skeletal muscles. A neuromuscular disorder, it can cause drooping eye lids and double vision.
    • Hydrocephalus, commonly referred to aswater on the brain, is the result of swelling in the brain, due to the accumulation of cerebral spinal fluid within the skull.
    • Multiple sclerosis(MS) is another condition in which nystagmus can be a symptom. Learning more about dealing with MS can possibly alleviate nystagmus to some degree.
    • Beriberiis a term for a deficiency in vitamin B1 or thiamine.
    • A rare cancer calledneuroblastomaeffects the sympathetic nervous system, most commonly found in children.
    • Labyrinthitisis another ear disorder. In this case, a nerve that detects the movement of the head becomes inflamed.
    • Additional, however rare, conditions include:
      • Acute cerebellar ataxia
      • Abetalipoproteinemia
      • Albinism
      • Chediak-higashi syndrome

Identifying Symptoms

  1. Recognize potential signs:The most prevalent symptom is rapid eye movement, often described asshaky vision. The types of shaky vision fall into three categories:
    • Horizontal nystagmus:a side to side movement of the eyes.
    • Vertical nystagmus:an up and down movement of the eyes.
    • Rotary nystagmus:movement of the eyes in a circular fashion.
  2. Identify other symptoms.Other potential symptoms of nystagmus include:
    • dizziness
    • sensitivity to light
    • trouble seeing in the dark
    • holding the head in an angled or turned position
    • problems with vision

Getting a Diagnosis

  1. Diagnose with an eye examination.A comprehensive eye examination is the first step in confirming a nystagmus diagnosis. It will begin with a thorough patient history, including health issues, medications, and potential environmental factors. This will be followed by specific eye tests.
    • When testing for nystagmus specifically, special attention is placed on how the eyes move. These tests include:
      • A measurement of visual acuity (sharpness). This tests the effects of the condition on vision.
      • A refraction test that determines any lens correction needed for conditions of near-sightedness, far-sightedness, or astigmatism.
      • A test of how the eyes move, focus and work together. This test determines any problems in controlling the movements of the eyes or their ability to work in unison.
  2. Diagnose with further physical examination.These examinations will often include a recording of the eye movement, an ear examination, and a neurological examination. The neurological exam can include testing of the motor and sensory systems, the cerebellum, coordination, and gait.
  3. Diagnose through imagery.There are a few diagnostic imaging options that can provide in depthpicturesof specific areas of the body, such as the inner ear. These options include MRI and CT scans of the brain.

Treating Nystagmus

  1. Explore treatments for congenital nystagmus.There is no cure currently for patients born with congenital nystagmus. There are, however, options that can aid in improving the condition:
    • Glasses or contact lenses may provide some relief by reducing the eye movement, due to improved vision.
    • Encouraging children to use their eyes. Providing toys like marbles or cars encourages the child to follow the movement with their eyes. Bright colors, noisy and different textured toys will also stimulate them.
  2. Explore treatments for acquired nystagmus.As with congenital nystagmus, there is no known cure for acquired nystagmus. The one notable difference is that with congenital nystagmus, a child's brain learns to adapt to the motion, ultimately seeing an image quite clearly. This is not true with acquired nystagmus, which tends to make one feel more disoriented.
    • The largest obstacle that doctors need to overcome with acquired nystagmus is being able to correct the eye issue without risking good sight.
    • The medical community continues to research a solution for this condition. Currently, the best course of treatment is to help relieve the symptoms, including correcting any vision issues, and being supportive of patients, answering questions they may have.

Moving Forward with Life

  1. Learn to live with congenital nystagmus.Most children with nystagmus attend conventional schools, high schools and colleges.
    • As each child has their own needs, parents may choose a special education program, if that is what they deem appropriate. Parents can also help their children by:
      • Continuing to stimulate a child's vision early in life. Use games with bright colours as well as those that involve hand/eye coordination.
      • Allowing them to hold books close to their eyes or tilting their head to facilitate easier reading.
      • Communicating with teachers regarding seating in the classroom, and inviting any suggestions the teacher may have. Let the teacher know that as parent, you welcome open communication with him or her.
    • On a positive note, many children with congenital nystagmus do well with their education. They carry on to attend high school and even college, living independent and happy lives.
  2. Learn to live with nystagmus as an adult.There are a few changes that can be made at the place of work and home, to make living with nystagmus more comfortable:
    • Use or read larger print books.
    • Increase the size of print displayed on your computer, tablet or cellular phone.
    • Ensure you are working or reading in a well lit area. Consider purchasing lighting that can accommodate various angles.
    • In very bright light, for example sunshine, consider wearing sun glasses.

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Date: 06.12.2018, 17:31 / Views: 45333

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