Vision Therapy for Nystagmus: Improving Visual Function and Quality of Life

Published on
May 15, 2023

According to the National Eye Institute, nystagmus affects approximately 0.24% of the general population in the United States. This means a whopping 720,000 individuals in the US face the challenges of nystagmus.

How does Nystagmus Impact Vision? 

Nystagmus is a condition that affects the eyes, causing involuntary and rapid movements that can make it difficult to focus on objects. Potential causes of nystagmus include neurological disorders, side effects of certain medications, and ocular trauma. Although nystagmus currently has no cure, various treatments can help manage symptoms and enhance visual acuity. One such treatment is known as vision therapy or neuro optometry.

How Does Vision Therapy Help Nystagmus Treatment?

Vision therapy uses targeted exercises, lenses, and activities to enhance eye and brain function to improve the visual system. It can help people with nystagmus by improving their ability to focus on objects and reducing the severity of their eye movements.

Vision therapy for nystagmus may include a variety of nystagmus exercises, such as:

Saccadic eye movements - these exercises involve looking quickly from one object to another, which can help improve eye muscle control and reduce the severity of the eye movements.

Visual tracking exercises - these exercises involve following moving objects with the eyes, which can help improve the ability to track objects and reduce the severity of the eye movements.

Visual perceptual exercises - these exercises involve activities that challenge the brain's ability to interpret visual information, which can help improve overall visual function and reduce the severity of the eye movements.

Balance and coordination exercises - these exercises involve activities that challenge the body's balance and coordination, which can help reduce dizziness and improve overall function.

In addition to these exercises, vision therapy for nystagmus may also include the use of specialized glasses or contact lenses, as well as the use of computerized visual training programs.

Who Can Benefit from Vision Therapy for Nystagmus?

Vision therapy can benefit people of all ages who have nystagmus, regardless of the severity of their condition. It can be particularly helpful for children with congenital nystagmus, as it can improve their ability to focus on objects and reduce the severity of their eye movements, which can improve their overall visual function and quality of life.

It is important to note that while vision therapy can be an effective treatment for nystagmus, it is not a cure. People with nystagmus may still experience involuntary eye movements even after completing vision therapy. However, vision therapy can help reduce the severity of the eye movements and improve overall visual function, which can make it easier to perform daily activities and improve quality of life.

Alternative Treatments for Nystagmus

A neuro optometrist or functional optometrist may combine different treatment modalities to improve the outcomes of treatment for Nystagmus. Some treatments that may be discussed include prism lenses. Another exciting therapy is called Revital Vision, which showed a 2 line improvement in visual acuity in 80% of patients with Nystagmus. 

Understanding Nystagmus and Its Causes

Nystagmus is a condition that causes involuntary and rapid eye movements, which can be horizontal, vertical, or rotational. It can occur in one or both eyes and can range from mild to severe. Some people with nystagmus may experience dizziness or a loss of balance, while others may have no nystagmus symptoms other than the eye movements themselves.

Nystagmus may result from a range of causes, encompassing neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, as well as the side effects of certain medications and eye injuries. Additional factors contributing to nystagmus include genetic predisposition, other eye-related issues such as strabismus or cataracts, head trauma, and inner ear complications. Specific illnesses, including multiple sclerosis, stroke, and Meniere's disease, can also lead to nystagmus. Furthermore, the condition can be triggered by the consumption of alcohol or drugs, albinism, and some medications, particularly those prescribed for seizure management.

Evaluate Your Visual Skills with Our Online Assessment

Take our online visual skills assessment to determine whether you or your child might have a visual deficit affecting success in academics, professional life, or sports performance.

Discover Personalized Vision Therapy Treatment Plans for Nystagmus

If you or a loved one has nystagmus and are interested in learning more about how vision therapy can help, contact an eye doctor who specializes in vision therapy. They can evaluate your condition and recommend a personalized treatment plan to help improve your vision and reduce the severity of your eye movements. Remember, early intervention is key to achieving the best possible outcomes.

Learn more about the functional vision exam here.

Visit a Neuro vision clinic at an Amplify EyeCare practice near you:

Contact Us To Amplify Your EyeCare