Fight for Sight–Nystagmus Network Small Grant Award to fund University of Leicester project to understand how nystagmus affect balance and posture in people who had it since childhood

Dr Frank Proudlock involved in study

Leicester, UK, 20-11-2014 — /EuropaWire/ — This year’s Fight for Sight–Nystagmus Network Small Grant Award will fund a research project that aims to understand how involuntary eye movements – a condition known as nystagmus – affect balance and posture in people who have had nystagmus since childhood.

Standing upright and maintaining balance requires input from vision, from muscles and joints and from the inner ear. Vision becomes especially important when the other senses are compromised, such as when walking over an unstable surface or when there are conflicting inputs, e.g. when a train moves off in a railway station.

Nystagmus causes constant motion on the retina (the light-sensitive sheet of cells at the back of the eye). And infantile nystagmus is often linked to disorders affecting the retina or the visual system depending upon the type of nystagmus.

So in this project, Dr Frank Proudlock, Senior Lecturer in the Ophthalmology Group at the University of Leicester and Professor Irene Gottlob, Consultant Ophthalmologist at Leicester Royal Infirmary will use a technique known as dynamic posturography to find out more about what effect visual impairments such as nystagmus, poor 3D vision and poor detailed vision have on the ability to balance.

Who is at risk, and when?

“Our aim is that this research will help us to identify, firstly, the patients that are at risk of having problems with balance, and secondly, the situations where they may have problems with balance,” said Dr Proudlock.

Dr Dolores Conroy, our Director of Research said: “We’re delighted to join forces with Nystagmus Network again this year, to fund this research. Not only does it address our long term goal of improving quality of life for adults and children living with sight loss, it also addresses a research priority identified by the Sight Loss and Vision Priority Setting Partnership to understand the effect of infantile nystagmus on visual and emotional development.”

Nystagmus Network President Vivien Jones said: “When we talk about sight problems, people generally think mainly in terms of poor distance vision. Nystagmus is much more complex than that. It can affect the time needed to see things, the field of vision and, as this project shows, balance. But all these issues are poorly understood, so we are very pleased that Dr Proudlock is looking at answering some fundamental questions about nystagmus and balance.”


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