Children with disabling eye disorder ‘written off’ by doctors

A leading eye specialist has warned that thousands of children with a disabling sight disorder are being “written off” because doctors “can run out of ideas”.

Jay Self, a consultant paediatric ophthalmologist at Southampton Children’s Hospital, said simple interventions used to improve the lives of patients with nystagmus continued to be overlooked.

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The condition causes the eyes to wobble and creates strobe vision, which makes it difficult to see moving objects, recognise familiar faces or perform everyday activities such as playing with toys and friends.

Although nystagmus, which affects about one in 1,500 people in the UK, can develop in later life, it is more commonly found in babies and young children and can be caused by many different underlying conditions.

Just under half of sufferers can be treated for associated problems to help ease their symptoms – but, for more than 50 per cent, there are no other medical conditions to treat, which is when, according to Mr Self, doctors can “run out of ideas”. He said many of these children can be helped in a variety of ways, including fitting them with the correct glasses or contact lenses.