Nystagmus and saccadic intrusions

Handb Clin Neurol. 2011:102:333-78. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-52903-9.00019-4.


We review current concepts of nystagmus and saccadic oscillations, applying a pathophysiological approach. We begin by discussing how nystagmus may arise when the mechanisms that normally hold gaze steady are impaired. We then describe the clinical and laboratory evaluation of patients with ocular oscillations. Next, we systematically review the features of nystagmus arising from peripheral and central vestibular disorders, nystagmus due to an abnormal gaze-holding mechanism (neural integrator), and nystagmus occurring when vision is compromised. We then discuss forms of nystagmus for which the pathogenesis is not well understood, including acquired pendular nystagmus and congenital forms of nystagmus. We then summarize the spectrum of saccadic disorders that disrupt steady gaze, from intrusions to flutter and opsoclonus. Finally, we review current treatment options for nystagmus and saccadic oscillations, including drugs, surgery, and optical methods. Examples of each type of nystagmus are provided in the form of figures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Stem / pathology
  • Brain Stem / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nystagmus, Physiologic / physiology*
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / classification
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / diagnosis
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / therapy*
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Vestibular Diseases / complications