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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2009 Nov;50(11):5201-6. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-3486. Epub 2009 May 20.

The prevalence of nystagmus: the Leicestershire nystagmus survey.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Leicester and Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester, United Kingdom.



Nystagmus, which can be infantile (congenital) or acquired, affects all ages. The prevalence of nystagmus in the general population is unknown. New genetic research and therapeutic modalities are emerging. Previous estimates have been based on wider ophthalmic epidemiologic studies within specific occupational or age groups. The authors carried out the first epidemiologic study to specifically establish the prevalence of nystagmus in Leicestershire and Rutland in the United Kingdom.


Three independent data sources identified persons with nystagmus from the hospital and community. The first was a hospital-based questionnaire and clinical survey (n = 238). The visually impaired services (n = 414) and education services (n = 193) in Leicestershire provided the second and third separately obtained community-based sources of information. Capture-recapture statistical analysis was used to estimate prevalence.


The prevalence of nystagmus in the general population was estimated to be 24.0 per 10,000 population (95% confidence interval [CI], +/-5.3). The most common forms of nystagmus were neurologic nystagmus (6.8 per 10,000 population; 95% CI, +/-4.6), nystagmus associated with low vision such as congenital cataracts (4.2 per 10,000; 95% CI, +/-1.2), and nystagmus associated with retinal diseases such as achromatopsia (3.4 per 10,000 population; 95% CI, +/-2.1). Within ethnic groups, nystagmus was significantly more common in the white European population than in the Asian (Indian, Pakistani, other Asian backgrounds) population (P = 0.004).


The findings suggest that nystagmus is more common in the general population than previously thought. This may be of significance in resource allocation and health care planning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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