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Jerk Nystagmus

Definition - What does Jerk Nystagmus mean?

The Definition

Jerk nystagmus is a type of oscillation with the eyes commonly found in individuals who are under the influence of alcohol. With this type of nystagmus, it is characterized by a drift of the eyes to one direction, but it is immediately corrected by fast movements to the other direction. Normally, officers can identify this type of nystagmus when they pull someone over under the suspicion of drunk driving. They will shine a light in their eyes to monitor eye movements, and most times can identify jerk nystagmus fairly quickly.

Causes of Jerk Nystagmus

One of the most popular causes of jerk nystagmus in individuals is alcohol. Too much alcohol can slow down receptors in the brain, and causes irregularities with not only bodily movements and reactions, but eye movements too. In more depth, jerk nystagmus is:

  • An imbalance in the slower eye movement system, like the vestibular or pursuit systems. 
  • An inability to hold one's gaze in a steady pace, or to hold their gaze on an unmoving object.

Jerk nystagmus, for both of these cases, comes into play when it tries to place the eyes back to their normal position, especially if it thinks the eyes are rolling to areas they shouldn't be, or are not aligning properly.

Can Someone be Convicted of DWI with Jerk Nystagmus?

Though jerk nystagmus is commonly found with people who are under the influence, more tests need to be done on the individual in order to be accurately convicted for DWI in court. Since jerk nystagmus has other reasons for occurring in a person outside of alcohol consumption, it is smart for authorities to perform other field tests in order to accurately accuse the individual for driving under the influence, or driving while intoxicated.

(Read more: - alcohol - court - tests )

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