March 28, 2007 07:15 ET

ORLive Presents: Horizontal Tenotomy: A Treatment for Congenital Nystagmus, a Rare Disorder That Causes the Eyes to Wiggle Uncontrollably

Live Webcast: From Akron Children's Hospital: March 28, 2007 12:30 PM EDT (16:30 UTC)

AKRON, OH -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 28, 2007 -- Join Akron Children's Hospital March 28, at 1:00 PM EDT on for a procedure to correct a rare eye condition called congenital nystagmus, which causes rapid, uncontrollable eye movements that often blur vision. Robert Burnstine, M.D., director of pediatric ophthalmology at Akron Children's Hospital, will perform the the horizontal tenotomy, while Amarpreet Singh, M.D., will act as a moderator.

About one in 3,000 people have congenital nystagmus, and many of these individuals are partially sighted. Some are legally blind. Few can drive a car. And almost all encounter some difficulties in everyday life -- both socially and practically.

While there's no cure for congenital nystagmus, a surgical procedure designed to slow the dancing eye has shown promising results.

"The procedure -- which involves detaching and reattaching horizontal eye muscle to the same location -- is intended to trick the brain and slow down the uncontrollable, darting eye movement," said Dr. Burnstine. "It sounds simple, but it seems to work. It's like rebooting a computer."

On average, patients have experienced a 20 percent improvement in their central vision and about a 50 percent improvement in their peripheral vision. Dr. Burnstine co-authored a study of the results, which was published in the December 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

To date, Dr. Burnstine has performed the surgery on about 60 children and adults. Many of them have traveled from other states for a chance to improve their vision.

Until this procedure was developed in 1999, medical treatments for reducing abnormal eye movement had limited success.

"Since congenital nystagmus affects the nerves behind the eye, rather than the eye itself," Dr. Burnstine said, "glasses and contact lenses can't correct the condition."

Dr. Burnstine, however, added that some patients find that turning their head at a certain angle helps improve their vision.

Ideal candidates for the surgery are patients ages 1 to 50 who have a clinical diagnosis of congenital nystagmus; have not had previous eye muscle surgery; and have no abnormal head posture.

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