What is Nystagmus?

Nystagmus is an eye condition that causes rapid, uncontrollable movement of the eye from side-to-side, up-and-down, or maybe even in a circle. It can effect either one or both of the eyes. These movements may be fast or slow, and can cause varying degrees of blurred vision with varying frequency. This is why the condition is also known as ‘dancing eyes’.

There are many different potential causes for the condition, and it may signal the presence of an underlying medical condition or problem. If you feel as though you have nystagmus, we recommend consulting an optometrist as soon as possible to rule out any harmful causes. We suggest you consider a Best Eye specialist in Lahore, if it is accessible.

Unfortunately, there are a few different types of nystagmus, making it harder to come to a conclusion about its cause, of which there are many as well. We’ll go over both the causes and types below.

Types of Nystagmus

Congenital Nystagmus

Also known as Infantile Nystagmus Syndrome (INS), this type of nystagmus usually appears within the first 3 months of a child’s life outside the womb. It can be an inherited genetic condition, but may also be the cause of some other congenital eye condition. Nystagmus is also associated with genetic albinism.

Children that have this form of nystagmus typically have it effect both eyes, and the motion is usually from side-to-side. The nature of this nystagmus is typically not that severe, and is only perceived as a mild blurring of vision, rather than the potential intense shaking of more severe nystagmus.

Because of the mild nature of the symptoms, doctors may find it hard to accurately diagnose the nystagmus, until it gets more severe.

Acquired Nystagmus

Also known as acute nystagmus, this is, as is suggested by its name, acquired at later stages in life. Its causes can range from serious medical conditions, to intense drug use, and its symptoms are generally more severe.

Adults that are diagnosed with nystagmus generally report having very shaky vision when the condition acts up, rather than just blurriness.

Typical causes are usually those that affect the passages in the inner ear.


As we’ve said before, pinpointing the cause of nystagmus isn’t always easy, even if you confirm the condition itself. Here are some of the potential causes of the condition:

  • Genetic inheritance
  • Problems involving the inner ear canals
  • Occurrence of strokes
  • Albinism
  • Head trauma
  • Frequent alcohol and/or drug consumption
  • Other eye conditions such as cataracts, and strabismus
  • Certain medications, such as lithium


Apart from the main symptom of rapid, uncontrolled eye movements, there are other less obvious symptoms, such as:

  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Frequent feelings of dizziness
  • Difficulty adjusting to low light

It must also be noted that nystagmus may by more likely to act up depending on the direction one is looking in, and the position of the head. Because of this, one may start instinctually tilting the head to a particular position, in order to stabilize their vision. In other words, another symptom might be a conditioned tilt to the head.

Closing words

As we’ve said before, diagnosing and pinpointing the cause of nystagmus can prove difficult when it is acquired. And treating severe cases may also prove difficult depending on the cause. This is why it is important to consult a professional as soon as you suspect you might be at risk of having nystagmus. We recommend an Eye specialist in Lahore, for an initial consultation.

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