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Help with Nystagmus research at Cardiff University

With the help of funding from the College of Optometrists, Research Unit Nystagmus (RUN) are investigating the effect that nystagmus has on binocular vision. Many people with infantile nystagmus have a specific head position that they turn to when trying to access their ‘best’ vision (known as the ‘null zone’). Currently, RUN are interested in how gaze angle affects eye dominance. Through this project, they hope to better understand the null zone, as well as the high prevalence of strabismus and amblyopia (lazy eye) in individuals with infantile nystagmus. An information sheet for this study can be downloaded here.

In addition, Research Unit Nystagmus are currently developing a new method for testing visual performance in nystagmus. Visual acuity (VA) is a measure of the smallest letters that can be read on an optician’s chart. Recently, they have shown that VA is unlikely to improve in adults with nystagmus following treatment. Despite this, many individuals report visual improvements after treatment. Nystagmus is a dynamic condition, since the eyes are constantly moving; no other condition causes visual input to change from moment to moment. VA does not address visual timing. This is the major aspect of this new test that RUN are developing. RUN and IN-vision believes that better measures of the impact of nystagmus on vision will not only provide the means to demonstrate the effects of the condition to others, but will also improve our ability to assess new treatments. An information sheet can be downloaded here.

To help with these research studies, Cardiff are currently looking for the help of around 20 people with early-onset nystagmus who are over the age of 18, and are able to get to Cardiff. They will contribute up to £50 towards travel costs. Altogether, taking part in both studies should take around half a day, with plenty of breaks. This will include a full sight test by a qualified optometrist, who can provide you with an updated spectacle prescription. The studies themselves are split into two groups: the first involves looking between targets that will be presented on a big screen. The second involves reading letters that will be displayed for varying lengths of time on a monitor. In all cases, the position of the eyes will be measured using an infrared camera.

For more information, or to volunteer to take part, please contact us or email Matt Dunn: DunnMJ1@cardiff.ac.uk