Infantile nystagmus: an optometrist's perspective

Clin Optom (Auckl). 2017 Sep 25;9:123-131. doi: 10.2147/OPTO.S126214. eCollection 2017.


Infantile nystagmus (IN), previously known as congenital nystagmus, is an involuntary to-and-fro movement of the eyes that persists throughout life. IN is one of three types of early-onset nystagmus that begin in infancy, alongside fusion maldevelopment nystagmus syndrome and spasmus nutans syndrome. Optometrists may also encounter patients with acquired nystagmus. The features of IN overlap largely with those of fusion maldevelopment nystagmus syndrome, spasmus nutans syndrome, and acquired nystagmus, yet the management for each subtype is different. Therefore, the optometrist's role is to accurately discern IN from other forms of nystagmus and to manage accordingly. As IN is a lifelong condition, its presence not only affects the visual function of the individual but also their quality of life, both socially and psychologically. In this report, we focus on the approaches that involve optometrists in the investigation and management of patients with IN. Management includes the prescription of optical treatments, low-vision rehabilitation, and other interventions such as encouraging the use of the null zone and referral to support groups. Other treatments available via ophthalmologists are also briefly discussed in the article.

Keywords: eye movements; low vision; null zone; optometric investigation; reading performance; visual acuity.

Publication types

  • Review