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Involuntary oscillatory movement of the eyeballs.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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