Children’s Eye Problems

Nystagmus (eyes that jiggle)
Nystagmus that develops in infancy is usually from one of three causes. The most common is simple “congenital nystagmus”, meaning completely normal eyes that just happen to jiggle. If they stopped jiggling the vision would be normal, but the jiggling causes some degree of blur (usually moderate). Many people with congenital nystagmus have a “null zone” meaning a position of gaze when the eyes giggle least and the vision is best, resulting in a face turn. For example, if the eyes jiggle least when looking to the right, the person will tend to turn his face to the left.

In some cases, though, nystagmus is the result of poor vision. Children who have an eye disorder (such as albinism, cataracts in both eyes, or underdeveloped optic nerves in both eyes) that causes poor vision in both eyes from tend to develop nystagmus at 3-4 months of age. In these cases the main issue is to determine the underlying cause of the visual impairment. In some cases (for example, cataracts or glaucoma), the underlying cause can and should be treated, whereas others (such as bilateral optic nerve hypoplasia) the cause of the visual impairment is one that requires further medical testing, such as a scan of the brain.

Finally, some people have nystagmus due to a neurologic disorder. This is the least common type of nystagmus but must be considered if the nystagmus appears in a person who did not have it before. In these cases a scan of the brain is usually needed.

Nystagmus cannot be cured. If there is a “null zone” (see above) the face turn can be markedly reduced or eliminated by an eye muscle surgery that moves the “null zone” to the straight ahead position. In cases where there is no “null zone”, there is a surgical procedure that often reduces nystagmus, though it does not eliminate it. Nystagmus does tend to get a little better over years without treatment, though it never goes away.



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vertical eye misalignment | the red eye | sports related eye injuries


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