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Definition - What does Nystagmus mean?

Nystagmus is the involuntary oscillating, jerking or movement of the eyes. Movement is generally side to side but can be circular or up and down. Nystagmus can cause loss of vision and can appear in the first 6 months of a child's life (congentile or infantile nystagmus) or develop later in life (acquired nystagmus). Acquired nystagmus is often caused by other medical health conditions such as multiple sclerosis, head trauma or a stroke.

The affects of nystagmus can vary widely from person to person. The degree of vision reduction can also vary and many suffers are considered partially or fully blind, although most simply have reduced vision rather than complete blindness. Nystagmus can so be affected by emotional and physical factors such as stress, fatigue, nervousness or unfamiliar surroundings. Other affects of nystagmus may include reduced reading ability, reduced depth perception, difficulty climbing stairs or moving on uneven surfaces, reduced confidence, lack of eye contact, reduced mobility and the inability to drive.

Although there is not a cure for nystagmus, there is several treatment options. It is important, especially for children, to make sure that they have the same opportunities as other kids who do not have this medical condition. Early intervention is important especially receiving proper medical care which can help to detect poor vision. Schools also may offer additional help to parents which can help children cope with their issues.

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