It has frequently been reported that the spontaneous ocular oscillation in congenital nystagmats is less intense for near viewing than during distance fixation. The reason for this effect was sought, and the influences of monocular adduction, convergence and accommodation acting separately and synergistically were assessed. The frequent assumption that nystagmus intensity (amplitude and frequency) is determined by convergence angle (either symmetrical or asymmetrical) was confirmed, and it was found that binocular viewing was not necessary. An identical effect on nystagmus intensity could be created for distance fixation by the use of base-out prisms, and these were prescribed for constant wear in two congenital idiopathic nystagmats. Although nystagmus intensity was constantly reduced, no concomitant increase in binocular contrast sensitivity or Snellen visual acuity occurred.