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Chronic nystagmus is a medical condition that affects the vision. This condition is best described as an involuntary movement of the eyes. Unfortunately, chronic nystagmus severely reduces the vision, and just a small portion of affected individuals is still able to do their normal everyday tasks such as driving, cooking or reading. For most of the patients, nystagmus is a severely disabling condition associated with many difficulties and lower than normal quality of life.

Types of chronic nystagmus

Almost anyone can get chronic nystagmus. In some cases, nystagmus is a congenital condition known as congenital nystagmus, infantile nystagmus or early onset nystagmus. Doctors use these terms to refer to the diagnosis established when the nystagmus occurs in infancy and in the family where the condition already exists. However, nystagmus can sometimes occur even in the family where no known cases of this disease are present. In some cases, people are not born with this disease, but they become affected due to certain accidents or because of the illnesses such as stroke or central nervous system disorders (multiple sclerosis, for example). If this is the case, doctors refer to the condition as to acquired nystagmus.

Causes of chronic nystagmus

As already suggested in the classification of nystagmus, this disease may be inherited or may develop as a result of a certain sensory or neurological problem. Sometimes, chronic nystagmus develops together with some other vision problems such as childhood cataracts, optic nerve atrophy, albinism, coloboma, etc. If it develops later in life, nystagmus typically results from any kind of eye injury, or as a side-effect of a disease that affects the motor system or affects the communication between the neurons in our brain. People with family history of nystagmus should pay special attention to their health as many cases confirm this condition tends to run in the families.

Symptoms of chronic nystagmusInvoluntary eye movement that severely restricts the vision is the most prominent symptom of nystagmus. Unfortunately, glasses or contact lenses are unable to correct this problem. People with nystagmus will typically need more time to see than normally sighted people. Their eye movement is reduced the closer they get to the object, which makes the distance very important for this disease. These individuals will typically have the null point where their best vision is actually achieved in one narrow gaze. In other directions the quality of vision will be very poor. People affected with chronic nystagmus will have problems seeing moving objects, crowded, cluttered or busy places. Many of them are hypersensitive to light, may have problems with balance and the quality of their vision varies throughout the day.

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