What is Nystagmus and How does it relate to dizziness

Acquired nystagmus (nystagmus that is not present at birth) is an observed eye movement that is present in individuals with vestibular dysfunction or some central nervous system conditions. Your eyes perform these repetitive drifts of the eyeball with a quick correction to the center. This occurs generally because the eyes are responding to a signal that movement of the head/body is occurring….whether movement is actually occurring, is what makes nystagmus a problem.


For example: if your eyes slowly drift to the left and then quickly correct to the center by moving right, your eyes are responding to a faulty signal from your brain or vestibular system that you ar removing to the right.


You can see this for yourself in our instagram post: https://www.instagram.com/p/CThWt36raVC/?utm_medium=copy_link


Nystagmus occurs in the absence of any pathology or disease in a few circumstances. Nystagmus functions to keep our visual world focused on the retina, so we can take it in with good acuity.


In the words of Jeff Foxworthy…. You might have nystagmus if…. (dad jokes)

  • You’ve looked out a car window while driving past a tree lined road. Your eyes with focus on a tree and then once that tree is out of view, your eyes will pick another tree to focus on. What someone watching your eyes would see is a slow drift of your eyes in 1 direction and then a quick eye movement to focus on the next tree

  • You’ve been spun rapidly in an office chair or bar stool with your eyes closed. If you were to open your eyes after being spun, what might be observed is some transient nystagmus. Your vestibular system (inner ear balance organ) stores some of the input from being spun in the chair. So even after movement, for a period of time, your vestibular system still thinks you’re spinning. Therefore, your eyes are responding to what your vestibular system is telling it and attempting to keep your visual field in focus.


If you are experiencing dizziness, vertigo, disequilibrium, imbalance you would likely benefit from an assessment from someone who is trained in vestibular therapy and has Frenzel goggles. To learn more about why Frenzel goggles are so important click here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CThWt36raVC/?utm_medium=copy_link


Dr. P.J. Pruszynski at Precision Performance and Physical Therapy has advanced training in vestibular and concussion rehabilitation. She also serves her dizzy patients with her training in a variety of manual therapy techniques, dry needling, and Neurac Redcord. P.J. sets herself apart through her advanced training, utilization of high speed video Frenzel goggles, and orthopedic therapy background. She is able to shepherd her patients from dizziness/imbalance all the way through to high athletic performance.

If you’re dealing with dizziness, vertigo, disequilibrium, or imbalance, call Precision Performance and Physical Therapy to get an appointment with Dr. P.J.


770-842-1418