The sub-clinical see-saw nystagmus embedded in infantile nystagmus

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A transient, decompensated vertical phoria in an individual with infantile nystagmus syndrome (INS) resulted in two images that oscillated vertically—a diplopic oscillopsia. Ocular motor studies during the vertical oscillopsia recreated by vertical prisms, led to the identification of a sub-clinical see-saw nystagmus (SSN), present under the prism-induced diplopic condition. Retrospective analysis of ocular motor recordings made prior to the above episode of vertical diplopia revealed the presence of that same sub-clinical SSN. The SSN had not been detected previously despite extensive observations and recordings of this subject’s pendular IN over a period of forty years. Three- dimensional search-coil data from fourteen additional INS subjects (with pendular and jerk waveforms) confirmed the existence of sub-clinical SSN embedded within the clinically detectable horizontal-torsional IN in seven of the fifteen and a sub-clinical, conjugate, vertical component in the remaining eight. Unlike the clinically visible SSN found in achiasma, the cause of this sub-clinical SSN is hypothesized to be due to a failure of the forces of the oblique muscles (responsible for the torsional component of the IN) to balance out the associated forces of the vertical recti; the net result is a small, sub-clinical SSN. Thus, so-called “horizontal” IN is actually a horizontal-torsional oscillation with a secondary, sub-clinical SSN or conjugate vertical component. The suppression of oscillopsia by efference copy in INS appears to be accomplished for each eye individually, even in a binocular individual. However, failure to fuse the two images results in oscillopsia of one of them.

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