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Voluntary Nystagmus

Timothy C. Hain, MD. Page last modified: December 26, 2015

About 8% of the normal population can voluntarily produce ocular flutter, usually during convergence (Zahn, 1978). This can be spotted because the pupil constricts during the convergence effort. This is usually considered a "party trick", and not a disease at all. Only a few papers have been written with "voluntary nystagmus" in their title (46 as of 2015)

This is usually a brief high frequency horizontal shimmer, that cannot be sustained for more than about 5 seconds. Occasional persons also appear to be able to produce voluntary multidirectional eye movements resembling opsoclonus.

While there are a few other types of nystagmus under voluntary control, such as some variants of congenital nystagmus, for the most part, the term voluntary nystagmus is reserved for this group.

Why do people produce voluntary nystagmus ?

Supplemental material on the site DVD: Video of voluntary nystagmus.

Supplemental material on the site DVD: Another video of voluntary nystagmus. (Courtesy of Dr. Dario Yacovino).

Note how the pupil constricts during the rapid horizontal shimmering.

The main approach to treatment of voluntary nystagmus is plus lenses to reduce the need for accomodation. (Neppert and Rambold, 2006).

References regarding voluntary nystagmus:


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Copyright August 3, 2016 , Timothy C. Hain, M.D. All rights reserved. Last saved on August 3, 2016