What is the role of imaging studies in the diagnosis of congenital nystagmus?

Updated: Oct 08, 2019
  • Author: Mark Ventocilla, OD, FAAO; Chief Editor: Edsel Ing, MD, MPH, FRCSC  more...
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Infantile nystagmus may indicate underlying neurologic disease. Neuroimaging is indicated when a space-occupying lesion or brain malformation is suspected, as in cortical visual impairment or ocular motor disturbance.

Patients presenting with spasmus nutans should undergo MRI to rule out glioma if evidence suggests an anterior visual pathway or hypothalamic disease.

Patients with sporadic (as opposed to familial) aniridia are at risk of developing Wilms tumor and should undergo periodic renal ultrasound. The need for this may be modified with increasing availability of genetic testing.

Patients with optic nerve hypoplasia are at increased risk for other midline CNS abnormalities, such as absence of the corpus callosum or pituitary ectopia; MRI may be indicated to assess the need for endocrine evaluation.

Ocular ultrasonography is indicated in nystagmus patients with persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous (PHPV), cataract, Peters anomaly, and other disorders in which the ocular fundus cannot be visualized. It also is useful to assess the status of the retina in advanced retinopathy of prematurity, familial exudative vitreoretinopathy, and perinatal trauma.

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