Nystagmus – What is it and What to Expect

Nystagmus – What is it and What to Expect

Posted under Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info

Nystagmus is an uncontrolled and involuntary movement of the eyes. The eyes may appear to wobble or shake. It is caused by a disturbance in the visual system that connects the eyes to those parts of the brain that analyze vision. There are two main types of nystagmus, congenital nystagmus develops in early childhood and acquired nystagmus develops later in life and is usually associated with a serious medical condition. Nystagmus is the most common visual impairment among school aged children and affects nearly 1 in every 1000 people.

Symptoms of Nystagmus

  • involuntary movement of the eyes
  • sensitivity to light
  • dizziness
  • difficulty seeing in darkness
  • vision problems
  • holding the head in a turned or tilted position
  • feeling that the world is shaking


Though nystagmus may be permanent, vision aids such as glasses, contacts, or low vision devices will help make images and text bigger and clearer for reading. Filtered lenses and improved lighting can also reduce glare and increase contrast for easier seeing and reading. In a classroom setting, simple accommodations can be made to help students succeed academically. Connect with your eye care professional and request a low vision evaluation to ensure you are using your vision to the fullest.