Nystagmus Awareness Day: How Is Nystagmus Managed In Children?

Nystagmus Awareness Day: How Is Nystagmus Managed In Children?

Nystagmus is an eye condition that causes the eye to move in rapid, repetitive motions, often in the pattern of up and down, left and right, or in circles. When a child is born with nystagmus, it is called infantile nystagmus (also sometimes referred to as congenital nystagmus). The vision impairment of nystagmus is highly variable; while some children have few vision abnormalities, others may be considered legally blind. It’s most common for children with nystagmus to have some vision difficulties including nearsightedness and a lack of depth perception. This Nystagmus Awareness Day, learn some ways to help manage this eye condition and support your child.

Ways To Help Your Child Manage Nystagmus Symptoms

Since most children with nystagmus have difficulty seeing faraway objects, a pair of prescription eyeglasses may help correct their vision. Once they are old enough, they can also use contacts. Tinted glasses can also sometimes help children with nystagmus, as the tint can help reduce glare. Visit your eye doctor annually to ensure that the prescription is up-to-date.

Everyday Tools To Help Vision
There are many resources available to help your child see in everyday life. Once your child is old enough to start using technology, you can make the text size larger and adjust the screen brightness so that it is comfortable for their eyes. You can also purchase large print books and request that their school do so as well. Around the home, you can help your child avoid bumping into items by not rearranging furniture so that your child can navigate using their memory instead of relying on sight. For the same reason, keep the floors cleared of potential tripping hazards.

Most children with infantile or congenital nystagmus do not require surgery, but it can be helpful for some. Children with nystagmus will often tilt their head to direct their gaze to what’s called the “null zone”, which is an area of vision where eye movement slows. Surgery is recommended for older children who have an extreme head tilt that is causing pain or stiffness in the shoulders, back, or neck.

Vision Assessments
If your child has an eye condition that limits their vision, you may be able to get assistive services for them. Depending on the severity of vision impairment, your pediatric optometrist can refer your child to a specialist for a low vision assessment. If your child is considered sight impaired (partially sighted) or severely sight impaired (legally blind), they may be eligible for expert help, financial aid, or the assistance of a qualified teacher for visual impairment (QTVI). This professional will assist your child with development and education until they reach 18 years of age. A QTVI can recommend further resources for after your child turns 18.

Nystagmus Screening During Children’s Eye Exams

It is recommended to schedule the first children’s eye exam when your child is 6 months old. This allows the eye doctor to check for any infantile eye conditions including nystagmus. The early diagnosis of this eye condition allows for the development of a nystagmus management plan while addressing vision issues early. Your Calgary eye doctors will work with you to discuss treatment options as well as available resources to ensure top-quality vision care for your child. To schedule a children’s eye exam with a Calgary pediatric optometrist, contact Specs in the City at 1-403-252-2020 or fill out the online contact form.


Q: How common is nystagmus?
A: Approximately 1 in every 1,000 people has nystagmus.

Q: Does nystagmus lead to blindness?
A: This depends on the severity of the condition, however, nystagmus will not continue to progress. If your child has mild nystagmus, it will remain mild.

Q: Is there a cure for nystagmus?
A: While there are ways to manage the symptoms of nystagmus, there is no cure.

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