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Involuntary oscillatory movement of the eyeballs.



an involuntary, rapid rhythmic oscillation of the eyeballs. The bilateral form of nystagmus is much more common than the unilateral form. Nystagmus can be lateral, rotatory, vertical, or diagonal, depending on the direction of the oscillations of the eyeball. The condition need not be pathological. For example, rotatory nystagmus can be induced in healthy persons who are revolving in a swivel chair, optokinetic nystagmus can result from fixing the eyes on moving objects, and caloric nystagmus can result when cold or warm water is poured into the ear.

Nystagmus is pathological when it results from a morbid condition in the vestibulocochlear nerve, in the vestibular nuclei of the brainstem, or in the labyrinth of the vestibular apparatus. Nystagmus can also result from a morbid process in the cerebellum, an inflammation of the inner ear, cerebrocranial traumas, infections and toxicoses of the brain, or neoplasms in the brain. In rarer cases, nystagmus is caused by eye diseases. Miner’s nystagmus is an occupational disease in miners who work with a pick under poorly illuminated and poorly ventilated conditions. Because these workers are constantly looking up or to the side, certain eye muscles become strained.

Nystagmus is treated by eliminating the underlying cause. In cases of miner’s nystagmus, the worker is transferred to jobs above the ground.


Tsimmerman, G. S. Klinicheskaia otonevrologiia. Moscow, 1952.


References in periodicals archive ?
Positional vertigo with atypical direction changing horizontal nystagmus
Diagnosis was made on clinical findings like sudden onset of vertigo with nausea or vomiting, clinical signs of unsteadiness, Spontaneous and horizontal nystagmus, Absence of other neurological signs, Normal Otoscopy and Normal hearing.
Neurological examination showed (i) hypaesthesia of all three sensory branches of the right trigeminal nerve, (ii) a non-rotatory spontaneous horizontal nystagmus to the left and (iii) body lateropulsion to the right.
On January 14, physical examination showed bilateral horizontal nystagmus and perianal ulcerations; plasma HIV RNA was >750,000 copies/mL.
On exam, she is afebrile and has horizontal nystagmus with a torsional component with the quick component to the left that improves with vision fixation.
An immediate field evaluation revealed a fine horizontal nystagmus, a positive left head thrust, (1) and a gait lean to the left.
Nausea and vomiting are most often associated with peripheral vertigo, as are rotatory or horizontal nystagmus, he said.
The patient had vertical gaze paresis, unable to look upward and downward with horizontal nystagmus.