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What Is Oscillopsia?

Oscillopsia may lead to feelings of severe nausea.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2014
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Also known as oscillating or swinging vision, oscillopsia is a disorder of the eye. People suffering with this condition report that objects appear to move back and forth across their field of vision, as well as up and down. The effect of this unusual perception of objects can lead to dizziness along with mild to severe nausea.

One of the more common causes of oscillopsia has to do with some sort of injury or disease that has a negative impact on proper neurological function. For example, a severe head injury may disrupt neural pathways and lead to the jerky movements that result in the sense of objects jumping about the range of vision. Tumors or the appearance of multiple sclerosis can also result in the development of swinging vision. If the visual cortex is impaired due to the presence of toxins in the body, oscillating vision may also occur.

It is important to note that people suffering with oscillopsia may experience one type of movement of objects, or several different types at one time. People with vertical oscillopsia may find that objects tend to move up and down, while people who see objects move back and forth may be diagnosed with horizontal swinging vision. In general, patients who experience multiple forms of movement tend to exhibit more feelings of disorientation and have trouble with vertigo as well as experiencing a constant sense of nausea that may lead them to curtail normal activities.

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Oscillopsia treatment varies greatly depending upon the underlying reason for the development of the condition. Once a diagnosis of the cause is confirmed, treatment of that underlying condition can commence. As the treatments progress, the dizziness and nausea begin to fade, and the individual notices that objects don’t seem to move around the field of vision as regularly as they once did. In some cases, the symptoms move from constant to intermittent, then finally fade altogether.

Because oscillopsia can be an early warning sign of several severe health issues, it is important to see a doctor as soon as the problem develops. Doing so will make it easier to obtain a diagnosis and begin treatments while the underlying cause is in its earlier stages. The sooner that the reason for the swinging vision is identified and treated, the sooner a patient will see a decrease in the seemingly constant movement of objects along the range of vision and be able to get back into a normal routine.

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Discuss this Article

anon939722
Post 11

@howard5091, Post 6: Yes, the problem can be from the afferent in the neck. The neck sends signals to the brain as to the position of the head when the head is turned or even if the head bounces on the neck when walking because of injury to the neck. If those signals are incorrect then the eyes can not track properly and things appear to be bouncing (oscillating).

anon939721
Post 10

Oscillopsia is a visual perception disturbance in which objects in the visual field appear to oscillate.

anon926747
Post 8

I've had the condition since childhood in 1966 when I fell from a cliff and broke my fall with the back of my head. I lay unconscious for several hours before being taken home and put in bed.

My condition consists of my entire field of vision undulating in every direction in psychedelic wave patterns. No hallucinations, just that the entire view is multiple wavy movements all connected but undulating at different wavelengths, speed and curves. I've been driving trucks, never had an accident, and have done welding, precision assembly of electronics. But it has made me so damned slow that I can't keep a job.

As a kid, the situation was so bad that once was enough to guarantee I would never bring the subject up again. A couple of decades ago, National Geographic magazine had a cover pic exactly like my vision.

I thought I'd be locked up if I mentioned it again. Now I'm so old and with Obummer care, nothing would be done anyway.

anon345066
Post 7

You mention treatments in this article for oscillopsia. What are they? I have this condition from a antibiotic complication which was stopped immediately. The only treatment I can find is physical rehab where they train you to accommodate the condition and retrain your brain to see better.

howard5091
Post 6

I have been having this problem off and on, lately. Things are moving up and down if I look at them a certain way. I have a bad neck that needs surgery. I have two discs gone in my neck, therefore things have collapsed and are putting pressure on my spinal cord. I am not sure if this could be coming from that or if it's something totally different.

They diagnosed me with vertigo a while back and did a CT of my head, but found nothing. I am off the medicine right now for vertigo and have been for months.

Could someone tell me if this could be coming from my neck and how they know what is causing my problem? I have not had my eyes checked in years. Will they be able to pick this up? I have had CT scans of my head and they are normal. I am worried that I have no headaches. I have pressure in my cheek like sinus pressure. I have had sinus problems really bad lately, where the drainage runs down my throat. I am clueless and worried. Please help.

anon306473
Post 4

A lady I love dearly suffers from "the wobbles" as she calls it, and has days when all she can do is stay in bed or on the sofa for hours on end. She has even fallen over face down when walking her dog!

Is there no end in sight for a cure for this? We can put a man on the moon. Surely we have the ability to sort this out.

anon154197
Post 3

Why don't you have a link so your article can be e-mailed to other people who might want to read it and be informed. This would be extremely helpful. Thank you

Moderator's reply: You can click on one of the large icons below the gray bar at the bottom of the page to share, tweet, e-mail or RSS feed this article. Thanks for visiting wiseGEEK!

anon126964
Post 2

I was originally misdiagnosed as Horizontal Nystagmus, but I later determined that it is probably more related to Oscillopsia. Other medical websites seemed to steer me in the wrong direction.

anon90504
Post 1

This was the best article I found. It covered everything. Bing and Google didn't, but yahoo did send me to this site.

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