What is Pendular Nystagmus?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Multiple sclerosis is one medical condition that can cause pendular nystagmus.
Multiple sclerosis is one medical condition that can cause pendular nystagmus.

Pendular nystagmus is an eye disorder where one or both eyes move involuntarily in a rhythmic up and down or back and forth motion. It can be paired with other forms of nystagmus like jerk nystagmus, where the eyes twitch at variable speeds. There are a number of causes for this condition and treatment options vary, depending on why it is happening. An ophthalmologist is typically involved in evaluation of the patient and development of a treatment plan to address the disorder.

An eye exam may be conducted to help evaluate a patient showing signs of pendular nystagmus.
An eye exam may be conducted to help evaluate a patient showing signs of pendular nystagmus.

This condition can be congenital or acquired, and is most commonly acquired. Vision loss early in life can cause pendular nystagmus and is a frequent cause of this condition. Another cause is multiple sclerosis, a disease involving progressive damage to the nerves. As the nerves are damaged, the patient can lose nerve and muscle control and this may manifest in the form of involuntary movements like nystagmus.

A doctor will recommend treatment options to a patient with pendular nystagmus based on their medical history and the cause of the condition.
A doctor will recommend treatment options to a patient with pendular nystagmus based on their medical history and the cause of the condition.

Movement of the eyes is controlled by a complex set of muscles working cooperatively. Problems with a patient's sense of balance can cause nystagmus, as can nerve and muscle disorders. In the case of pendular nystagmus, the eyes may mirror each other or track differently, depending on the nature of the condition. Most commonly, they move in concert and at a steady rate. This causes visual disturbances for the patient and can also attract unwanted attention.

Children struggling with school work may have a vision problem.
Children struggling with school work may have a vision problem.

In a patient with involuntary eye movement, an evaluation will be performed to learn more about what is happening. This can include an eye exam, medical imaging studies to check for lesions on the brain, and an interview to check for any obvious risk factors, such as a history of neurological impairment. This information is used in the development of a treatment plan for the pendular nystagmus, which can include medications and surgery, as well as treatment of the underlying cause of the problem.

Vision loss that occurs early in life can lead to pendular nystagmus.
Vision loss that occurs early in life can lead to pendular nystagmus.

Strange eye movements in someone without a history of vision problems can be a sign of early vision loss or damage to the brain. Especially in young children, they are a cause for concern and it is advisable to contact a doctor to discuss a medical examination. Providing information about when the pendular nystagmus or other abnormal eye movements were first observed is helpful, as is taking notes on any other changes in a patient's behavior or health. A child who has trouble completing assignments in school, for example, might be struggling with vision loss rather than simply being unmotivated, or may have a neurological problem making it difficult to do schoolwork.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Multiple sclerosis is one medical condition that can cause pendular nystagmus.
      By: arturas kerdokas
      Multiple sclerosis is one medical condition that can cause pendular nystagmus.
    • An eye exam may be conducted to help evaluate a patient showing signs of pendular nystagmus.
      By: Monkey Business
      An eye exam may be conducted to help evaluate a patient showing signs of pendular nystagmus.
    • A doctor will recommend treatment options to a patient with pendular nystagmus based on their medical history and the cause of the condition.
      By: Monkey Business
      A doctor will recommend treatment options to a patient with pendular nystagmus based on their medical history and the cause of the condition.
    • Children struggling with school work may have a vision problem.
      By: Leah-Anne Thompson
      Children struggling with school work may have a vision problem.
    • Vision loss that occurs early in life can lead to pendular nystagmus.
      By: fred goldstein
      Vision loss that occurs early in life can lead to pendular nystagmus.