Nystagmus Basics

Normal Models that Simulate Dysfunction
  • Louis F. Dell’Osso
Part of the Topics in Biomedical Engineering International Book Series book series (TOBE)


Instabilities of the ocular motor system may take either of two forms, nystagmus or saccadic oscillations. Nystagmus (an involuntary oscillation of the eyes) is caused by instabilities in subsystems responsible for slow eye movements, whereas saccadic oscillations stem from subsystems responsible for generating saccadic eye movements. Nystagmus may exhibit either a pendular (sinusoidal) or a jerk waveform. In jerk waveforms, the slow phases displace the eye and fovea away from the target and the fast (saccadic) phases attempt to refoveate it. An important indication of the underlying mechanism for a particular type of nystagmus is the shape of the slow phase. Linear (constant velocity) slow phases of jerk nystagmus stem from tonic imbalances in any of the ocular motor subsystems. Decelerating ‘decreasing velocity) slow phases of jerk nystagmus are due to failure of gaze holding mechanisms, either central (common neural integrator) or peripheral (extraocular plant). Finally, accelerating (increasing velocity) slow phases of jerk nystagmus indicate a basic instability in a subsystem that causes it to “run away.” Pendular nystagmus indicates a resonant-frequency oscillation of a subsystem.


Smooth Pursuit Efference Copy Ocular Motor Neural Integrator Congenital Nystagmus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abel L. A., Dell’Osso L. F., Daroff R. B., 1978a, Analog model for gaze-evoked nystagmus, IEEE Trans Biomed Engng. BME-25: 71–75.Google Scholar
  2. Abel L. A., Parker L., Daroff R. B., Dell’Osso L. F., 1978b, Endpoint nystagmus, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 17: 539–544.Google Scholar
  3. Abel L. A., Dell’Osso L. F., Schmidt D., Daroff R. B., 1980, Myasthenia gravis: Analogue computer model, Exp Neural. 68: 378–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alexander G., 1912, Die Ohrenkrankhieten im Kindesalter, in: Handbuch der Kinderheilkunde, M. Pfaundler and A. Schlossman, eds., Vlg FCW Vogel, Leipzig, pp. 84–96.Google Scholar
  5. Ciuffreda K. J., 1977, Movements in amblyopia and strabismus. (Ph.D Dissertation), School of Optometry, Univ. of California„ Berkeley.Google Scholar
  6. Collins C. C., 1975, The human oculomotor control system, in: Basic Mechanisms of Ocular Motility and their Clinical Implications, G. Lennerstrand and P. Bach-y-Rita, eds., Pergamon Press, Oxford, pp. 145–180.Google Scholar
  7. Daroff R. B., Dell’Osso L. F., 1974, Periodic alternating nystagmus and the shifting null, Can J Otolaryngol. 3: 367–371.Google Scholar
  8. Dell’Osso L. F., 1967, A model for the horizontal tracking system of a subject with nystagmus, Proc 20th Ann Conf EMB. 9: 24. 2.Google Scholar
  9. Dell’Osso L. F., 1968, A Dual-Mode Model for the Normal Eye Tracking System and the System with Nystagmus. (Ph.D. Dissertation), Electrical Engineering (Biomedical), University of Wyoming, Laramie, pp. 1–131.Google Scholar
  10. Dell’Osso L. F., 1970, A dual-mode model for the normal eye tracking system and the system with nystagmus, IEEE Trans Biomed Engng. BME: 87.Google Scholar
  11. Dell’Osso L. F., Gauthier G., Liberman G., Stark L., 1972, Eye movement recordings as a diagnostic tool in a case of congenital nystagmus, Am J Optom Arch Am Acad Optom. 49: 3–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dell’Osso L. F., Daroff R. B., 1975, Congenital nystagmus waveforms and foveation strategy, Doc Ophthalmol. 39: 155–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dell’Osso L. F., Troost B. T., Daroff R. B., 1975, Macro square wave jerks, Neurology. 25: 975–979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dell’Osso L. F., Daroff R. B., 1976, Braking saccade-A new fast eye movement, Aviat Space Environ Med. 47: 435–437.Google Scholar
  15. Dell’Osso L. F., Schmidt D., Daroff R. B., 1979, Latent, manifest latent and congenital nystagmus, Arch Ophthalmol. 97: 1877–1885.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dell’Osso L. F., Daroff R. B., 1981, Clinical disorders of ocular movement, in: Models of Oculomotor Behavior and Control, B. L. Zuber, ed., CRC Press Inc, West Palm Beach, pp. 233–256.Google Scholar
  17. Dell’Osso L. F., 1986, Evaluation of smooth pursuit in the presence of congenital nystagmus, Neuro ophthalmol. 6: 383–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dell’Osso L. F., Van der Steen J., Steinman R. M., Collewijn H., 1992a, Foveation dynamics in congenital nystagmus I: Fixation, Doc Ophthalmol. 79: 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dell’Osso L. F., Van der Steen J., Steinman R. M., Collewijn H., 1992b, Foveation dynamics in congenital nystagmus II: Smooth pursuit, Doc Ophthalmol. 79: 25–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dell’Osso L. F., Van der Steen J., Steinman R. M., Collewijn H., 1992c, Foveation dynamics in congenital nystagmus III: Vestibulo-ocular reflex, Doc Ophthalmol. 79: 51–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dell’Osso L. F., Weissman B. M., Leigh R. J., Abel L. A., Sheth N. V., 1993, Hereditary congenital nystagmus and gaze-holding failure: The role of the neural integrator, Neurology. 43: 1741–1749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dell’Osso L. F., 1994, Evidence suggesting individual ocular motor control of each eye (muscle), J Vestib Res. 4: 335–345.Google Scholar
  23. Dell’Osso L. F., Leigh R. J., Sheth N. V., Daroff R. B., 1995, Two types of foveation strategy in ‘latent’ nystagmus. Fixation, visual acuity and stability, Neuro Ophthalmol. 15: 167–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dell’Osso L. F., Averbuch-Heller L., Leigh R. J., 1997, Oscillopsia suppression and foveation-period variation in congenital, latent, and acquired nystagmus, Neuro Ophthalmol. 18: 163–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dell’Osso L. F., Jacobs J. B., 1998, A preliminary model of congenital nystagmus (CN) incorporating braking saccades, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 39: S149.Google Scholar
  26. Doslak M. J., Dell’Osso L. F., Daroff R. B., 1979, A model of Alexander’s law of vestibular nystagmus, Biol Cyber. 34: 181–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Doslak M. J., Dell’Osso L. F., Daroff R. B., 1982, Alexander’s law: A model and resulting study, Ann Otol Rhino! Laryngol. 91: 316–322.Google Scholar
  28. Eizenman M., Cheng P., Sharpe J. A., Frecker R. C., 1990, End-point nystagmus and ocular drift: An experimental and theoretical study, Vision Res. 30: 863–877.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gordon S. E., Hain T. C., Zee D. S., Fetter M., 1986, Rebound nystagmus, Soc Neurosci Abstr. 12: 1091.Google Scholar
  30. Harris C. M., 1995, Problems in modeling congenital nystagmus: Towards a new model, in: Eye Movement Research: Mechanisms, Processes and Applications, J. M. Findlay, R. Walker and R. W. Kentridge, eds., Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 239–253.Google Scholar
  31. Jacobs J. B., Dell’Osso L. F., 1999, A dual-mode model of latent nystagmus. ARVO abstracts, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 40: S962.Google Scholar
  32. Jacobs J. B., Dell’Osso L. F., 2000, A model of congenital nystagmus (CN) incorporating braking and foveating saccades. ARVO abstracts, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 41: S701.Google Scholar
  33. Kurzan R., Büttner U., 1989, Smooth pursuit mechanisms in congenital nystagmus, Neuro ophthalmol. 9: 313–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Leigh R. J., Robinson D. A., Zee D. S., 1981, A hypothetical explanation for periodic alternating nystagmus: Instability in the optokinetic-vestibular system, Ann NY Acad 374: 619–635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Optican L. M., Zee D. S., 1984, A hypothetical explanation of congenital nystagmus, Biol Cyber. 50: 119–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Raphan T., Matsuo V., Cohen B., 1979, Velocity storage in the vestibuloocular reflex arc (VOR), Exp Brain Res. 35: 229–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rashbass C., 1961, The relationship between saccadic and smooth tracking eye movements, J Physiol (Lond). 159: 326–338.Google Scholar
  38. Robinson D. A., 1973, Models of saccadic eye movement control systems, Kybernetik 14: 71–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Robinson D. A., Zee D. S., Hain T. C., Holmes A., Rosenberg L. F., 1984, Alexander’s law: Its behavior and origin in the human vestibulo-ocular reflex, Ann Neurol. 16: 714–722.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Robinson D. A., Gordon J. L., Gordon S. E., 1986, A model of smooth pursuit eye movements, Biol Cyber. 55: 43–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Robinson D. A., 1994, Implications of neural networks for how we think about brain function, in: Movement Control, P. Cordo and S. Hamad, eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 42–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schmidt D., Dell’Osso L. F., Abel L. A., Daroff R. B., 1980, Myasthenia gravis: Saccadic eye movement waveforms, Exp Neural. 68: 346–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shallo-Hoffmann J., Schwarze H., Simonsz H. J., Miihlendyck H., 1990, A reexamination of end-point and rebound nystagmus in normals, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 31: 388–392.Google Scholar
  44. Shallo-Hoffmann J., Faldon M., Tusa R. J., 1999, The incidence and waveform characteristics of periodic alternating nystagmus in congenital nystagmus, Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 40: 2546–2553.Google Scholar
  45. Stark L., 1968, Neurological Control Systems (Studies in Bioengineering), Plenum Press, New York, pp. 1–428.Google Scholar
  46. Tusa R. J., Zee D. S., Hain T. C., Simonsz H. J., 1992, Voluntary control of congenital nystagmus, Clin Vis Sci. 7: 195–210.Google Scholar
  47. Yasui S., Young L. R., 1975, Perceived visual motion as effective stimulus to pursuit eye movement system, Science. 190: 906–908.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Young L. R., Stark L., 1963a, A discrete model for eye tracking movements, IEEE Trans Military Elect MIL 7. 13–115.Google Scholar
  49. Young L. R., Stark L., 1963b, Variable feedback experiments testing a sampled data model for eye tracking movements, IEEE Trans Prof Tech Group Human Factors Electron. HFE: 38–51.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis F. Dell’Osso
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of NeurologyUniversity HospitalsClevelandUSA

Personalised recommendations