Comparison of techniques for identification of peripheral vestibular nystagmus

J Laryngol Otol. 2012 Dec;126(12):1209-15. doi: 10.1017/S0022215112002368. Epub 2012 Oct 26.


Objective: To determine the best clinical method for identifying peripheral vestibular nystagmus, by comparing eye movement examination with optic fixation, and with fixation removed using Frenzel's glasses, infra-red video-Frenzel's goggles or an ophthalmoscope, with results of electronystagmography.

Method: One hundred patients referred for electronystagmography from the audiovestibular medicine clinic at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, were examined immediately before undergoing electronystagmography.

Results: Video-Frenzel's goggles were highly effective at detecting peripheral vestibular nystagmus, with a sensitivity of 85 per cent (95 per cent confidence interval, 62.1-96.8 per cent) and a specificity of 65 per cent (53.5-75.3 per cent), compared with electronystagmography. Ophthalmoscopy had comparable sensitivity to Frenzel's glasses (used in the dark), i.e. 26.3 per cent (9.1-51.2 per cent) compared with 31.6 per cent (12.6-56.6 per cent), respectively. Frenzel's glasses as normally used in ENT clinics (i.e. in dim lighting) were ineffective, with a sensitivity of just 10 per cent (1.2-31.7 per cent).

Conclusion: Video-Frenzel's goggles should be used in all clinics with substantial numbers of balance-impaired patients. Traditional Frenzel's glasses have no place in clinical practice unless formal black-out facilities are available.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electronystagmography / instrumentation
  • Electronystagmography / methods
  • Eyeglasses
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nystagmus, Pathologic / diagnosis*
  • Physical Examination
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Vestibular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Video Recording