Imagine growing up and not being able to clearly see the mountains outside your bedroom window, the teacher at the head of the class, or your favorite book or video game. You can no longer play soccer or baseball, and when you get older, you won't be able to qualify for a driver's license.
Each year, thousands of children are born with or develop a condition called congenital nystagmus. Also known as "dancing eyes" or "shaking eyes," nystagmus refers to involuntary eye movements — up and down or side to side — that often results in severely limited or reduced vision.
Parents who seek treatment for their child's condition have few options. The child can live with it and adapt to deteriorating vision, or undergo existing treatments that may surgically reduce the shaking but do not improve their vision.
In recent years, UC Irvine Health Gavin Herbert Eye Institute has developed an innovative experimental procedure that takes a radical approach to treating nystagmus.
Over the next several months, UC Irvine Health will highlight 8-year-old Thomas Walkup, his mother Susan Banks, and his journey to improved vision.
Along the way, we will introduce pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Robert Lingua, recount the experiences of other nystagmus patients and describe Lingua's innovative nystagmus surgery.
The procedure has been controversial among ophthalmologists but has so far helped dozens of children regain their vision.