If you know someone with nystagmus, you will almost certainly have noticed that how much their eyes flicker can vary quite a bit. Sometimes our eyes move faster or further. Not surprisingly, the more or the faster our eyes move, the harder it is for us to see.
Lots of things can trigger these changes in our involuntary eye movements. The commonly cited ones include: tiredness, illness, worry, anxiety,apprehension, hunger, embarrassment, fear, emotional upset (death of a loved one or relationship difficulties), stress and hormonal changes (particularly in teenage years). Environmental factors such as poor lighting can increase nystagmus eye movements too.
Whatever the cause or trigger, the upshot is the same: we have good days and bad days in terms of how we see. We can even have good and bad minutes, hours, weeks or even months (for example if we face long term anxiety about issues at work).
If we - and people around us -- understand how our nystagmus changes and what influences it, we can to some extent manage some of these triggers. Fatigue is perhaps one of the more obvious factors over which we often have some control. So, for instance, encouraging a child to take a five or ten minute break when their eyes are flickering more than usual can help nystagmus to settle down to what we might call its "normal" level for that person.
But it's not always easy to reset nystagmus back to someone's optimum level. So it's important to remember that what a child can see and do in the morning may be a struggle in the afternoon when they're more tired. In addition, how close we sit to a screen or hold a book may vary throughout the day, depending on how much our eyes are involuntarily moving at any given time among other factors (such as light levels) .
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