What is the role of the optokinetic nystagmus (OKN) test in the diagnosis of dizziness, vertigo, and imbalance?

Updated: Mar 13, 2017
  • Author: Hesham M Samy, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Robert A Egan, MD  more...
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OKN is a complex central nervous system (CNS) reflex initiated by moving images on the retina. OKN supplements pursuit and vestibular eye movements to stabilize retinal images during constant-velocity head motion. The cortical origin is the parietal lobes, with vestibular nuclei, accessory optic tract, inferior olivary nucleus, cerebellum, and oculomotor nuclei participating. OKN abnormalities are seen in deep parietal-lobe lesions. OKN testing can also be used to identify subtle ocular motor abnormalities (eg, incomplete internuclear ophthalmoplegia).

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