advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Dealing With Dancing Eyes?

What causes the eye disorder nystagmus? Are there any exercises or natural remedies you can recommend that would reduce or eliminate its effects? Is it true that it can't be cured?

A
Answer (Published 4/12/2012)

Nystagmus, sometimes called "dancing eyes," is a condition in which one or both eyes move uncontrollably quickly, usually from side to side but sometimes up and down or in a circle (rotary nystagmus). This disorder stems from abnormal functioning of areas of the brain that control eye movements.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor - If you are interested in supplementing your diet but don't know where to start, take Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor. It is free, and provides a personalized vitamin & supplement recommendation based on your health history. Visit today!

Nystagmus can reduce visual acuity and sometimes is associated with other visual problems such as strabismus, in which the eye turns in, out, up or down.  Symptoms can also include sensitivity to light, dizziness and trouble seeing in the dark.

Most cases of nystagmus are present at birth or develop in infancy, usually between six weeks and three months of age. They are referred to as Infantile Nystagmus Syndrome and usually are mild and don't worsen. Rarely, however, some of these problems are related to congenital eye diseases. Children with nystagmus don't see the world as moving back and forth or shaky and may not even be aware of the eye movements while they're happening. However, adults who develop nystagmus may see things in constant motion.

When this eye disorder occurs later in life, it is called "acquired" nystagmus. There are many causes, but the most common is the use of certain medications, including the anti-seizure drug Dilantin and sedatives that affect the function of the labyrinth, the part of the inner ear that senses movements of the head. Excessive alcohol intake can also be a cause. Less commonly, acquired nystagmus stems from head injuries, inner ear infections (labyrinthitis), or Meniere's disease, an inner-ear disorder that intermittently triggers vertigo. Other possible causes are stroke or a deficiency of vitamin B12 or vitamin B1 (thiamin). Multiple sclerosis, brain tumors or other neurological diseases can also cause nystagmus.

Treatment for acquired nystagmus depends on the cause - it usually goes away if it is drug or alcohol-related and you discontinue the drug or stop drinking. Contact lenses or eyeglasses may be needed to help address the vision problems associated with nystagmus, but they won't correct the underlying disorder. Sometimes holding your head in a specific position reduces the eye movements, and in some cases, botox injections can help patients with severe shakiness in their vision by relaxing eye muscles. Occasionally, eye muscle surgery may be recommended to improve vision; but again, it will not cure the nystagmus. If vision is affected, magnifying devices, good lighting and large print reading materials may help you see better. I know of no exercises or natural remedies for nystagmus.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here