Nystagmus (jerky eye movements) is common in MS’ers

Epub ahead of printThurtell MJ, Leigh RJ. Treatment of Nystagmus. Curr Treat Options Neurol. 2011 Nov 10.

Nystagmus (jerky eye movements) is common in MS’ers. Many report visual symptoms, such as oscillopsia (vision is jumpy and not easily to see) and blurred vision, which can be alleviated if the nystagmus can be suppressed. 

Pharmacological, optical, and surgical treatments are available, with the choice of treatment depending on the characteristics of the nystagmus and the severity of the associated visual symptoms. 

Downbeat nystagmus can be treated with 4-aminopyridine, 3,4-diaminopyridine, or clonazepam. 

Upbeat nystagmus can be reduced with memantine, 4-aminopyridine, or baclofen. 

Torsional nystagmus may respond to gabapentin. 

Acquired pendular nystagmus in patients with multiple sclerosis is often partially suppressed by gabapentin or memantine. 

Although acquired periodic alternating nystagmus is often completely suppressed by baclofen, memantine can be effective in refractory cases. 

Seesaw nystagmus can be reduced with alcohol, clonazepam, or memantine. 

Other treatment options for nystagmus include botulinum toxin injections into the extraocular muscles or retrobulbar space. Electro-optical devices are currently being developed, in order to noninvasively negate the visual consequences of nystagmus.

“Nystagmus is another symptom that is very problematic in MS’ers. This article makes it seems that we have it sorted; unfortunately not. Although these drugs can help they often associated with side effects, mainly sedation.”

“I would be interested to know how many of you have problems with nystagmus.”

2 thoughts on “Nystagmus (jerky eye movements) is common in MS’ers”

  1. My daughter has had nystagmus for some months but it's mild and doesn't bother her. It started as part of a relapse. Now most of the other symptoms are back to pre-relapse but this has persisted.For a while there was some vertical diplopia that the neuro-ophthalmologist thought was caused by the nystagmus.

  2. I live with two different nystagmus at two different speeds. This makes driving dangerous though I no longer participate and reading very difficult and at times impossible.
    Any advice?

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