Diagnosing infantile nystagmus: A novel eye tracking approach

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight / Nystagmus Network Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Dr Lee McIlreavy
  • Institute: Cardiff University
  • Region: Wales
  • Start date: December 2017
  • End Date: November 2018
  • Priority: Early detection
  • Eye Category: Childhood-onset


Infantile nystagmus is a condition where the eyes involuntarily move from side-to-side. The condition starts soon after birth, is associated with reduced vision, and is lifelong. The cause of the eye oscillations remains unknown.

Children need to undergo a series of tests to establish a diagnosis of infantile nystagmus. Such tests can include examinations of the eyes, measurements of the electrical signals generated by the eye, and brain scans. However, by recording and visualising the eye oscillations using eye trackers, those with infantile nystagmus can be readily identified, potentially speeding up medical diagnosis. Currently, eye trackers are not widely available because they are expensive, and require specialists to use them.

In this project, the team will compare a variety of different eye movements made by those with and without infantile nystagmus. The aim is to determine whether a new approach to eye tracking can correctly identify the patterns of eye movements made by those with infantile nystagmus.

Results from the study could lead to a simple, child-friendly eye tracking test that does not rely on expensive eye tracking technology. This would help make it possible to detect the condition earlier, reducing the time to diagnosis, and enable children and their families to receive appropriate advice much sooner.