Nystagmus, sometimes called “dancing eyes” is a vision condition in which the eyes make repetitive, uncontrolled movements. These movements often result in reduced vision and depth perception and can affect balance and coordination. These involuntary eye movements can occur from side to side, up and down, or in a circular pattern.
There are two types of nystagmus: congenital and acquired.
This type of nystagmus starts in infants, usually between 6 weeks and 3 months old. Children with this condition tend to have it in both eyes, which move side to side. Usually doctors do not know what is causing the child’s condition. Sometimes it is inherited (passed down from parents to children).
Children with nystagmus typically do not see things as “shaking.” Instead, they may have some blurry vision.
This condition happens later in life. It has many causes, including serious medical conditions or drug and alcohol use.
Unlike children with congenital nystagmus, adults with nystagmus often say that things around them look shaky.
The main symptom of nystagmus is rapid eye movement that cannot be controlled. Usually the movement is side to side. It can also be up and down or circular. The movement can vary between slow and fast, and it usually happens in both eyes.
In addition to rapid eye movement, nystagmus symptoms include:
- sensitivity to light
- difficulty seeing in the dark
- vision problems
- holding the head in a turned or tilted position
- the feeling that the world is shaking