Many children with Nastagmus have no
eye, brain or other health problems. In this case the condition
is called 'congential idiopathic Nastagmus' or 'idiopathic infantile
nystagmus' meaning that the condition is observed, or starts, early
in life and the cause is unknown.
Several types of nastagmus can be inherited. To find
out the chances of someone passing on Nystagmus to the next generation,
a specialist must first make an accurate diagnosis of the underlying
condition. It may then be necessary to consult a clinical geneticist
for detailed information and counselling.
Acquired nystagmus which develops later in life may
be a symptom of another condition such as a stroke, multiple scleriosis
or even a blow to the head. There are many other causes. Nystagmus
is not infectious or contagious.
Because nystagmus may be the first sign of serious
disorder of the eye or brain, it is vital that when Nystagmus first
develops the child or adult in referred to an ophthalmologist (eye
specialist) or a neurologist.
What treatment is available?
Nystagmus cannot be cured, but
there are several treatments which can help. Glasses and Contact
lenses do not correct Nystagmus, although they may help a little
& should certainly be worn to correct other sight problems.
A child or adult may be diagnosed as being 'short sighted' as well
as having nystagmus. Long or short sightedness occur because the
eye itself is not exactly the right shape for focusing.
|The focusing problems can be corrected with glasses
or contact lenses, but the nystagmus will still affect the sufferer's
eyesight. Being long sighted does not mean that a Nystagmus
sufferer has good distance vision. Ask your ophthalmologist
or optometrist (optician) to explain more. Very occasionally,
surgery is performed to alter the position of the muscles which
move the eye, The purpose of this is to reduce the head tilt.
Medical researchers have exploded
ways of trying to reduce the nystagmus by making the patient aware
of the eye movement and encouraging them to control it. These techniques
rely on visual or audio signals (known as bio-feedback) to the patient.
For example, the patient might listen to an electronic signal which
goes higher when the eye movement is greater. Some people have said
that they benefit from this type of treatment. However, the evidence
is not conclusive and many question remain unanswered such as: 'Do
any possible benefits last?'
Interest in Nystagmus among vision scientists
is growing. However a lot of basic research is needed to understand
the condition better and progress is likely to be measured in decades
rather than years.