Ocular Motility Disturbances

Last updated date: 20-Aug-2023

Originally Written in English

Ocular Motility Disturbances


Each eyeball is movable under the direction of six muscles. Some of the fastest and best-controlled skeletal muscles in the human body are those in the eyes. The muscles attach the eye socket to the eyeball's surface. To rotate the eyeball up, down, and side to side, the muscles contract and pull in pairs; some of these muscles also gently rotate the pupil.

Ocular motility and neuro-ophthalmology, which analyzes diseases of the nerves that link the eyes to the brain, are closely related fields of research. Disorders of the neuro-ophthalmologic system may also result in malfunctioning of the neural networks that direct and connect vision and eye movement.

Three nerves transmitting messages from the brain to the muscles allow the brain to regulate voluntary and involuntary eye movements. The majority of the muscles are controlled by the oculomotor nerve, followed by the trochlear nerve, which also controls the superior oblique muscle, and the abducens nerve, which controls the lateral rectus muscle. The dysfunction of these three nerves can affect the eye, pupil, optic nerve, extraocular muscles, and associated nerves.


Ocular Motility Disturbances Types

You use several muscles to move both eyes to focus on an object when you are looking at it. The eyes are not able to function properly if there is a problem with the muscles. Eye movement abnormalities come in a variety of forms. Two typical forms are:

  • Strabismus. It is a condition when the two eyes don't gaze in the same direction. Crossed eyes are the outcome of this.
  • Nystagmus. Fast, irregular eye movements are sometimes referred to as dancing eyes.

Several eye movement problems exist from birth. Others emerge gradually and may be linked to other issues, such as injuries. Glasses, patches, eye exercises, and surgery are all forms of treatment. Some ocular movement disturbances, including the majority of nystagmus subtypes, are incurable.


Ocular Motility Disturbances in Children

Many kids don't have their full potential for vision when they first come into the world, which is something that isn't always obvious to either parents or medical experts. On the other hand, eye movement is one sign of potential eye issues. Even when a child is nonverbal, their eye movements tell a lot about their eyesight. A child's visual abilities can be judged by how effectively they follow faces or huge objects. Nystagmus, or the unusual jerking of a child's eyes, is another sign of a potential problem. These eye movements may be continuous or intermittent. They may be vertical, oblique, torsional (circular), horizontal, or any combination of the above. As a result, research on eye movement can provide important facts about vision.




The majority of us are fortunate in that our eyes' cooperative functioning began very early in infancy and has continued ever since. No matter which way we look, we can focus each eye on the object, and our brain combines the images from each eye into the three-dimensional mental image that we perceive.

Every 100 kids, about two of them do not have the same advantages. Their eyes don't work together as a unit for a variety of reasons. The two eyes are not fixed or directed at the same object. The name for this disorder is strabismus.

Rarely does a youngster with strabismus complain. Most of the time, a parent's attention is drawn to the child's eye first. If a child's eyes don't seem to be working together, an ophthalmologist should check them.

Although strabismus is significantly more frequent in children, it can also develop in adults. Many people have strabismus. This patient population is managed in a separate area of the ophthalmology department called the adult motility center. No one is ever too old to receive strabismus treatment.

Strabismus is one of the frequent reasons for lazy eyes. The youngster must use one eye at a time while their eyes are focused in opposite directions to prevent double vision. He or she will develop lazy eyes if they use one eye more than the other.

Even kids without strabismus can get lazy eyes. Despite having straight eyes, one eye is chosen above the other. This less-favored eye loses its ability to learn and becomes lazy.

Based on which way the eyes are directed, strabismus can be classified as esotropia, exotropia, or hypertropia.


Types of Strabismus

Types of Strabismus


Esotropia, where one or both eyes move inward toward the nose, is the most prevalent kind of strabismus. This disorder is inherited by some kids. It usually begins at about age 2 and a half. When esotropia affects these older kids, glasses can frequently assist address the issue by reducing the child's refractive errors or farsightedness. Reducing the child's need for excessive concentration can lessen or even stop the crossing.

A broad nasal bridge or an additional skin fold in some children can provide the false appearance of esotropia. Pseudoesotropia is the name for this condition.



The second most typical type of strabismus is exotropia. One or both eyes may turn out in this situation. At age two or three, it typically begins. When a kid is tired or ill, the eye may initially drift out for a brief period. The child usually does this when gazing off in the distance. Another typical early symptom is closing one eye while playing outside when the sun is bright.



The least prevalent form of strabismus is hypertropia. One eye is higher than the other in this situation. To avoid the double vision that this issue typically brings on, the child frequently tilts or cocks his or her one side of the head.




Another common issue is amblyopia (lazy eye), which affects roughly three to four kids out of every 100. A child that is born with normal eyes has the potential to have good vision in both of them, but they must learn to use each one separately. If a child chooses to use one eye over the other for any reason, the preferred eye develops good vision while the other suffers from inactivity. Even with glasses, it does not learn to see as well. It is said that the non-preferred eye is lazy or has amblyopia.

The absence of symptoms means that the child is not bothered by amblyopia. Only by examining each eye's vision, it can be discovered. Any child who is three years old or older can have this done pretty accurately. Therefore, by the age of four, all kids should have their vision evaluated.




Nystagmus is an uncontrolled eye movement condition that can impair or limit vision. Whether congenital or acquired, it is possible. The eyes will flicker uncontrollably, which is a hallmark of the disease. When one looks in a different direction, the movement may change and be jerky or pendular.

Every time the head moves, the brain corrects by moving the eyes in the opposite direction to maintain distant visual images. Signals are sent to the brain by the inner ear upon detection of angular acceleration. The extraocular muscles are then directed by the brain to fixate on a single object while the head is moving.

When the inner ear's semicircular canals are activated while the head is still, nystagmus results.

When someone on a moving train sees a stationary object out of the windows, a form of nystagmus can be seen: the eyes steadily follow the thing until it disappears from range, and then the eyes abruptly jerk back to the other side of the window.

Nystagmus can be sensory and come from vision issues, or it can be motor and result from a neurological condition.


Double Vision (Diplopia)

Double Vision

Diplopia, or double vision, is the simultaneous perception of two images of the same thing. The two images can be rotated as well as moved either horizontally, vertically, or rotationally.

Double vision may be present all the time, intermittently, or even only when looking in a specific direction. Damage to the eye muscles or nerves prevents both eyes from focusing on the target simultaneously, which is the usual cause of double vision. Even though both eyes are fully functional, each one produces a slightly distinct image since they cannot focus on the same object at the same time. Due to the brain's inability to combine them into a single image, this results in the perception of two images rather than one.

Some forms of double vision only affect one eye; this is typically due to light splitting as it enters the eye, which can be brought on by a cataract, faulty eyeglasses, or an uneven surface on the eye. As an alternative, there can be an issue with the back of the eye.

It should be noted that since double vision can be a symptom of more serious issues, it is essential to pinpoint the actual source of the problem.


Ocular Motility Disturbances Diagnosis

Ocular Motility Disturbances Diagnosis

Eye Movement Testing

The testing is carried out using cutting-edge computer hardware and video recording devices. The specially created tests are capable of recording eye movements in thousandths of a second and fractions of a degree that reveal even the slightest irregularity and patterns of the bouncing.


Eye Movement Analysis

Young children's eye movements can be observed using electrooculograms, which involve applying tiny electrodes to the skin near an infant's eyes. The child won't feel pain or harm from this test. Patients are frequently videotaped for future investigations. The child's general attitude at the time of the exam is also evaluated. With this system, many facilities with their researchers have been able to do, which characterize and record the various newborn eye movements.

Special contact lenses with small hairline wires are applied to the eyes and then attached to recording devices for more precise recordings of adults and older children. The specific regions of the retina can be activated even in eyes that move randomly thanks to the computer-controlled target that is focused onto a screen. The specialized contact lenses enable measurements using eyes that are unable to track a target accurately by providing horizontal, vertical, or torsional recordings with precision and range not typically available.


Vision Testing

Using a spatial frequency sweep VEP (visually evoked potential), newborns, preverbal children, and certain adults' eyesight are assessed. A patient takes part in this exam by viewing a television screen with moving, computer-controlled lines. Up until the line widths are too tiny to be seen, the brain waves produced by vision are recorded when the lines are reversed. The computer calculates estimations of the patient's visual acuity after studying these waves.

Flashes are used in another kind of VEP in place of lines. This test is especially useful for identifying nystagmus patients who exhibit albinotic features, or those that are present in albino children, and for establishing whether the child is capable of binocular vision. As the child's condition changes, many facilities offer continuing testing because children are constantly growing and developing. When they are young, children with eye movement problems are repeatedly tested and carefully monitored.


Genetic Testing

Parents of children with hereditary eye movement problems have access to genetic testing and counseling. In these situations, the ophthalmology staff collects thorough family histories to provide genetic counseling and further study family members. Not only are parents helped by this data, but also scientists studying these conditions.


Ocular Motility Disturbances Treatment

Ocular Motility Disturbances Treatment

Strabismus Treatment

Strabismus can be treated with surgery, eyeglasses, patching, or a combination of these. Surgery to correct strabismus is a delicate technique done on the muscles that attach to the outer part of the eye. Each eyeball has six muscles linked to it that allow for movement.

Depending on the type of strabismus, eye muscle surgery involves weakening or strengthening one or more of these muscles in one or both eyes. The child is given general anesthesia while being operated on. The child typically arrives at the hospital the morning of the procedure and is released the same day a few hours later. For a week after the treatment, the eyes are slightly red. The child experiences only minor discomfort after leaving the hospital. Most of the time, he or she can resume their regular home activities. It should be emphasized, nevertheless, that sometimes more than one operation is necessary.


Amblyopia Treatment

Amblyopia is treated by forcing the lazy eye to be used more frequently. Typically, the preferred or healthy eye is patched to achieve this. It can take several months of doing this for each eye to see equally well. Fortunately, it frequently works in regaining good vision. Up until the age of nine, the patching may occasionally need to be continued. To get the finest vision, it might be necessary to wear glasses in addition to patching the healthy eye if the lazy eye is out of focus.



Any irregular eye alignment or trouble controlling eye movements are referred to as ocular motility disturbances. Low vision is frequently attributed to the eye alone, and certain conditions including cataracts, nearsightedness, and farsightedness do have an effect.