Ocular Neuromyotonia: Three Case Reports With Eye Movement Recordings

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The objective of this article was to evaluate the etiologies, findings, and treatment of ocular neuromyotonia (ONM) in three case reports. The etiologies of ONM were determined by the histories, neuroradiologic tests, or biopsies. Clinical observations, videotaping, and electronic eye movement recordings documented the eye movement abnormalities. Intermittent diplopia developed several years after myelography with thorium dioxide (Thorotrast), radiation treatment for a pituitary tumor, and radiotherapy for medulloblastoma of the posterior fossa. All of the patients had intermittent, variable tropias that occurred spontaneously or were induced by eccentric gaze. One patient had a partial third nerve palsy, and another had a unilateral internuclear ophthalmoplegia (INO). ONM involved the paretic third nerve, extraocular muscles, and ipsilateral lateral rectus muscle in one patient, the paretic medial rectus muscle (INO) in one patient, a lateral rectus muscle (INO) in one patient, and a lateral rectus muscle in the last patient. Eye movement recordings were consistent with spasms of the involved muscles. Carbamazepine (Tegretol) abolished the ONM in two patients. The other patient had been taking carbamazepine for seizures and developed ONM when the dose was decreased. Increasing the dose abolished the ONM. ONM is an unusual cause of intermittent diplopia and strabismus, but its distinctive history and signs identify it easily. Damage to the peripheral cranial nerves might produce segmental demyelination, axonal hyperexcitability, and a self-perpetuating, reverberating circuit that causes spasms of the extraocular muscles.

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