Resting in darkness improves downbeat nystagmus: evidence from an observational study

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Resting in an upright position during daytime decreases downbeat nystagmus (DBN). When measured in brightness only, that is, without intermitting exposure to darkness, it does not make a significant difference whether patients have previously rested in brightness or in darkness. In real-world scenarios, people are often exposed to brightness and darkness intermittently. The aim of this study was to analyze whether resting in brightness or resting in darkness was associated with a lower post-resting DBN after intermitting exposures to brightness and darkness. Eight patients were recorded with three-dimensional video-oculography in brightness and darkness conditions, each following two 2-h resting intervals under either brightness or darkness resting conditions. The dependent variable was DBN intensity, measured in mean slow phase velocity. A repeated measures ANOVA with the factors measurement condition (brightness vs. darkness), resting condition (brightness vs. darkness), and time (after first vs. second resting interval) showed a significant effect for the factor resting condition, where previous resting in darkness was associated with a significantly lower DBN relative to previous resting in brightness (P< 0.01). The clinical relevance is to advise patients with DBN to rest in darkness.

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