Pharmacological treatment has been successful in some forms of acquired neurological nystagmus. However, drugs are not known to be effective in idiopathic infantile nystagmus or nystagmus associated with ocular diseases.
The authors retrospectively analysed Snellen visual acuity (VA), subjective visual function, and eye movement recordings of 23 patients with nystagmus (13 secondary to multiple sclerosis, three associated with other neurological diseases, two idiopathic infantile, and five with associated ocular diseases) treated with gabapentin or memantine.
With gabapentin, 10 of 13 patients with nystagmus secondary to multiple sclerosis (MS) showed some improvement. Memantine improved the VA in all three patients with MS who did not improve on gabapentin. There was no change of nystagmus in other neurological disorders. Patients with congenital nystagmus showed reduction of nystagmus and their VA changes depended on the ocular pathology.
Gabapentin and memantine may be effective in acquired nystagmus secondary to MS. To the authors' knowledge this is the first series of patients showing that gabapentin is effective in improving nystagmus in congenital nystagmus/nystagmus associated with ocular pathology. Memantine may be useful as an alternative drug in treating patients with nystagmus.