Can I Have Laser Eye Surgery If I Have Nystagmus (Involuntary Eye Movements)?

Nystagmus, which is otherwise known by the more telling phrase “dancing eyes”, is a condition of involuntarily, or sometimes voluntary, eye movement.

There are two main types of nystagmus: physiological, which is caused by factors such as congenital disorders or sleep deprivation, and pathological, which have to do with disease and illnesses.

There’s also a few outliers, for instance, nystagmus is often associated with vertigo, the sensation that objects around you are moving when they’re not.

Nystagmus is commonly considered as an eye condition that comes about as a side-effect of another underlying condition. In this way, nystagmus is often considered as incurable, however, there is often something that can be done to reduce or manage its symptoms.

As nystagmus is characterised by involuntary eye movement, you would think that Laser Eye Surgery would undoubtedly be off the cards.

But not only is nystagmus an eye condition which is not a contraindication for Laser Eye Surgery, there may even be the chance of reducing its effects through having the procedure.

Nystagmus and Laser Eye Surgery

At the London Vision Clinic, we are no strangers to providing treatments for patients with nystagmus.

So to answer the question, “Can you have Laser Eye Surgery if you have nystagmus?” Then the simple answer is yes. However, it is important to note that Laser Eye Surgery does not treat the nystagmus, rather, through its ability to correct refractive errors and improve visual acuity, it may be able to reduce its symptoms.

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Expert Laser Eye Surgeon Mr Glenn Carp explains that at London Vision Clinic we are able to provide both LASIK and PRK treatment for people with nystagmus. 

Nystagmus is believed to occur due to a problem in the way the eyes send messages to the brain or how the brain processes visual information.

As mentioned, this can be the result of the parts not having fully developed as a child, or due to some other damage which has occurred later in life. With the visual pathways or parts of the brain not working as they should, eye movements can become poorly controlled, and, as people with the condition report, can often worsen with psychological stress.

The RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) has published a complete guide to Nystagmus which serves as a great foundation for understanding the condition. They also have videos that give an insight into one man’s and one young girl’s experiences with nystagmus, which may be helpful for discovering new ways to better live with and manage the condition.

Want to find out more about Laser Eye Surgery and nystagmus and if you are suitable for treatment? Leave us a comment below or contact one of our friendly and helpful team of eye experts.

Can I Have Laser Eye Surgery If I Have Nystagmus (Involuntary Eye Movements)? [video]

14 Comments
  1. Mohammed Amin 15/04/2013 at 01:29

    Hi i have genetic inherited nystagmus can i have laser eye surgery?

    • London Vision Clinic 23/04/2013 at 12:31

      Whilst Laser eye surgery will not treat the nystagmus, it can be safely performed with the use of the sensitive eye tracking systems fitted to most modern lasers.

  2. samantha 30/06/2013 at 12:38

    Hi i have nystagmus and ive had it since i was born. My sight is very bad. but i was wondering would i be able to have lazer eye surgery? I know it says it wont help the nystagmus but will it help me see better

    • London Vision Clinic 10/07/2013 at 12:15

      Hi Samantha, yes, advanced laser tracking makes surgery possible even with nystagmus.

  3. Jia 13/07/2013 at 01:15

    My eye specialist keeps telling me that my eye sight can not be cured. Its genetic and I’ve had it ever since I was born. Really weak. I have nystagmus too since birth and that’s pretty bad as well. Also I’ve developed a squint in my eyes which the doctors say is because of very poor eye sight. I wanted to have laser surgery for both my vision and squint. Nystagmus doesn’t bother me much but I’ve been told that the surgery is either not possible or too dangerous because I have nystagmus. Is it possibe to safely treat a nystagmic patient?

    • London Vision Clinic 05/08/2013 at 16:13

      Hi Jia. Yes, we have advanced tracking within our laser which means that we are able to safely treat patients with nystagmus. As with any patient, we would need to assess you on an individual basis in order to take all factors into account, and confirm whether you are suitable. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call 020 7224 1005 and one of our Patient Care Coordinators can arrange this.

  4. Adam 30/07/2013 at 17:39

    I was told at Optical Express that my nystagmus was too fast for the machine to handle is that the case with yours? I really would like to get laser to remove the need for glasses or contact lenses

    • London Vision Clinic 05/08/2013 at 16:59

      Hi Adam. At London Vision Clinic, we have advanced tracking within our laser, which enables us to safely treat patients with nystagmus. In order to make a full assessment of your suitability, we would need to see you in person to examine your eyes (as is the case with any patient). If you would be interested in scheduling an initial appointment, or would like more information, please call us on 020 7224 1005 and speak to our Patient Care Coordinators.

  5. Freddy 29/01/2014 at 23:44

    Hi, I am aware if your tracking LASIK technology ,
    My name is Fred and I have nystagmus too..
    It’s is quite bad and shakes horizontally
    I would like to get and estimate of a price and a appointment price. If you could please contact me

    I wanted to drive but have been told it will never happen even with modern LASIK treatment.
    Please. As much info as possible would be a great help
    Please respond to this comment via email thank you ‘

    Freddyboi@live.co.uk

  6. Jesse 06/07/2014 at 08:08

    Hi, I was wondering if LASIK surgery would be able to treat my nystagmus along with my astigmatism and what general price range would this type of procedure cost.

  7. robert 07/06/2016 at 21:14

    Hi I suffer from nastigmus. Has any one had the lazer treatment? And does it improve your eye sight?

    • Bethany Kingsley 09/06/2016 at 10:51

      Hi Robert,

      Thank you for your comment. We have treated many patients that have Nystagmus, however, suitability is based on a case by case basis. Laser eye surgery itself does not cure or help the Nystagmus. Laser eye surgery can rid patients of the glasses or contact lenses that they use. Please let me know if you have any questions by calling the clinic on 0207 224 1005
      Thanks,

      London Vision Clinic

  8. Tush 09/10/2016 at 05:27

    Hi.. i had nystagmus since a birth.. i had took lasic treatment on left eye but it quite work for good vision but i am unable to focus on alphabet on board even sitting on 3rd bench.. there should be any treatment which totally cure my nystagmus..??

    • Bethany Kingsley 10/10/2016 at 08:27

      Hi Tush,

      Thank you for your comment. There is no treatment that could totally cure your nystagmus but there are options for you. I could recommend you see Veronica Ferguson. http://www.veronicaferguson.co.uk/
      Thanks
      London Vision Clinic