Nystagmus is a rhythmic, involuntary movement of the eyes. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including inner ear disorders, brainstem damage, and certain medications. Nystagmus can be present at birth (congenital nystagmus) or develop later in life (acquired nystagmus).
What is the cause of nystagmus?
The most common cause of nystagmus is an inner ear disorder, such as labyrinthitis, Meniere’s disease, or vestibular neuritis. Other causes of nystagmus include:
- Brainstem damage
- Cerebrovascular accident (stroke)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Medications (such as Dilantin, alcohol, and certain sedatives)
- Congenital disorders
What is the difference between nystagmus and vertigo?
Nystagmus and vertigo are two different conditions that can sometimes occur together. Nystagmus is a movement of the eyes, while vertigo is a sensation of dizziness or spinning.
Vertigo is usually caused by a problem with the inner ear or the vestibular system, which is responsible for balance. Nystagmus can be caused by a problem with the inner ear, the brainstem, or the eyes themselves.
How Is Nystagmus Related to the Ear?
The inner ear contains two structures that are important for balance: the semicircular canals and the otolith organs. The semicircular canals detect angular movement of the head, while the otolith organs detect linear acceleration and deceleration.
Nystagmus can be caused by a problem with either the semicircular canals or the otolith organs. For example, labyrinthitis is an inflammation of the inner ear that can cause nystagmus.
Can Hearing Loss Cause Nystagmus?
Hearing loss can sometimes cause nystagmus. This is because the inner ear contains both the structures that are responsible for balance and the structures that are responsible for hearing. If there is damage to the inner ear, it can affect both balance and hearing.
Audiology and Nystagmus
Audiologists are trained to assess hearing and balance. They can use a variety of tests to diagnose nystagmus and determine the underlying cause.
If you have nystagmus, an audiologist can help you to understand the condition and its impact on your hearing and balance. They can also recommend treatment options, such as medication or surgery.
Nystagmus can be a symptom of a serious underlying condition, so it is important to see a doctor if you have any concerns.