Below we explain what Nystagmus is, what the symptoms are, how the condition is assessed and any available treatment options.

Nystagmus is a continual to and fro movement of the eyes which cannot be controlled.  The movements can be in any direction and the eyes will look as though they are moving .  Although nystagmus is a problem with the parts of the brain that deal with eye movement rather than a problem with the eye itself, most people with nystagmus will have impaired vision.

There are two main types of nystagmus; developmental, appearing in the first few months of life; or acquired, coming on later in life.  This last can be the result of stroke, brain injury or other brain disease but occasionally the cause may not be found.


Symptoms vary widely depending on the underlying cause of the nystagmus.  In addition, people with nystagmus can experience their symptoms differently from day to day.


Patients with nystagmus should be referred to an Ophthalmologist or Neurologist as appropriate.  Assessment and examination of the eyes will be carried out and further neurological testing may be required.


Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the nystagmus. Developmental nystagmus, generally improves with age, although very slowly, and there will be an equivalent improvement of vision. For acquired nystagmus, medication can improve some of the symptoms and occasionally surgery may be recommended. However there is no fully curative treatment currently available .

Rehabilitation training and particular visual aids may be very helpful for acquired nystagmus.

Further online information



This information can be made available in Braille, or audio CD should you require it, from manchester@henshaws.org.uk

Explore our other pages on eye conditions

Retinitis pigmentosa | Cataracts | Charles Bonnet Syndrome | Chronic Glaucoma | Nystagmus | Macular degeneration | Hemianopia


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