Dissociated vertical deviation: An exaggerated normal eye movement used to damp cyclovertical latent nystagmus

D. L. Guyton, Jr Cheeseman, F. J. Ellis, D. Straumann, D. S. Zee, G. K. Von Noorden, E. L. Raab, J. Flynn, A. B. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Dissociated vertical deviation (DVD) has eluded explanation for more than a century. The purpose of this study has been to elucidate the etiology and mechanism of DVD. Methods: Eye movement recordings of six young adults with DVD were made with dual-coil scleral search coils under various conditions of fixation, illumination, and head tilt. Horizontal, vertical, and torsional eye movements were recorded for both eyes simultaneously. Analyses of the simultaneous vertical and torsional movements occurring during the DVD response were used to separate and identify the component vergence and version eye movements involved. Results: Typically, both horizontal and cyclovertical latent nystagmus developed upon occlusion of either eye. A cycloversion then occurred, with the fixing eye intorting and tending to depress, the covered eye extorting and elevating. Simultaneously, upward versions occurred for the maintenance of fixation, consisting variously of saccades and smooth eye movements, leading to further elevation of the eye behind the cover. The cyclovertical component of the latent nystagmus became partially damped as the DVD developed. Conclusions: In patients with an early-onset defect of binocular function, the occlusion of one eye, or even concentration on fixing with one eye, produces unbalanced input to the vestibular system. This results in latent nystagmus, sometimes seen only with magnification. The cyclovertical component of the latent nystagmus, when present, is similar to normal vestibular nystagmus induced by dynamic head tilting about an oblique axis. Such vestibular nystagmus characteristically produces a hyperdeviation of the eyes. In the case of cyclovertical latent nystagmus, the analogous hyperdeviation will persist unless corrected by a vertical vergence. A normal, oblique-muscle-mediated, cycloversion/vertical vergence is called into play. This occurs in the proper direction to correct the hyperdeviation, but it occurs in an exaggerated form in the absence of binocular vision, probably as a learned response. The cycloversion/vertical vergence helps damp the cyclovertical nystagmus (a cyclovertical 'nystagmus blockage' phenomenon), aiding vision in the fixing eye. But this mechanism also produces unavoidable and undesirable elevation and extorsion of the fellow eye, which we call DVD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-429
Number of pages41
JournalTransactions of the American Ophthalmological Society
Volume96
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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