Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone

Linked to how much our eyes move is the null zone (sometimes called the null point). The null zone is a direction of gaze where the eyes of someone with nystagmus are most settled and move least. It won't come as a surprise that this is where we see best, but it doesn't mean that we have perfect vision in the null zone. It's probably more accurate to say that our vision in the null zone is more comfortable than in all other directions.

One way to think of the null zone is to imagine a torch beam in a fairly dark room. You might be vaguely aware of objects, furniture, people in the room outside that beam of light, but only vaguely. You only see clearly what's in the beam. Find and turn on the light switch and suddenly you can see everything in the room. Turning on the light helps those of us with nystagmus too, but not to the same extent. We still have to turn that torch beam (our null zone) to look in a narrow arc and slowly piece together who and what is in that room.

Not everyone with nystagmus has a null zone and some are more obvious than others. With an obvious null zone, the person will turn their head to left or right or hold their head up or down (or a combination) to get their best vision. Some people have a null zone in the straight ahead position, so it's not so apparent. And others don't have a null zone at all, so don't worry if your child doesn't have one.

Looking in the direction furthest from the null zone is uncomfortable to put it mildly. For example, if your child has a null zone to the right it will be difficult and uncomfortable for them to see things on their left hand side. Some people think that we "find" our null zones. We don't. Null zones are what and where they are. We have no influence over them.Think of it like being right-handed or left-handed.

Now, the good news is that if you understand the null zone you can take steps to make life easier for your child. This may sound a bit counter-intuitive, but if your child's null zone is to the right, then they will probably find it easier to see things if they sit to the left of what they're looking at. This is particularly important in school classrooms when choosing the best position for a child to see the white or black board.

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