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Eccentric head positions reveal disorders of conjugate eye movement.
  1. M Gresty


    The effect of head position on conjugate horizontal gaze was studied in healthy adults, in patients with multiple sclerosis without eye movement signs, and in patients with downbeat nystagmus indicative of low brain stem lesions. Displacements of gaze from primary position to 30 degrees left and right were recorded using the electro-oculogram, with the head in the primary position, and turned voluntarily to the left and right (in yaw). The quality of eye movements was noted and peak velocities of saccades were measured. The head turning test trebled the incidence of abnormal eye movements found in the multiple sclerosis patients and increased it by tenfold in the patients with downbeat nystagmus. Disorders of eye movement were also found in approximately 20--30% of healthy subjects tested. Weakness of abduction was the most common eye movement defect and appeared to be posterior internuclear ophthalmoplegia. A hypothesis is made which unifies the theoretical explanations of anterior and posterior internuclear ophthalmoplegia. The most likely cause of the disorders of eye movement observed is vertebrobasilar ischaemia induced by stretching and compression of the vertebral arteries during eccentric head posture.

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