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Opsoclonus : Causes, Treatment

What is Opsoclonus?

Opsoclonus is a condition where a person has rapid and uncontrolled eye movements. In opsoclonus, the patient has involuntary, rapid, horizontal and vertical eye movements. These eye movements are unpredictable and fast without inter-saccadic intervals. Opsoclonus is also known as reflexive saccade or saccadomania. The movements of opsoclonus exhibit very minor amplitude and the eye movements appear as small deviations from their primary position.

What is Opsoclonus

What are the Causes of Opsoclonus?

Some of the possible causes of opsoclonus include encephalitis and neuroblastoma in children. In adults, the causes of opsoclonus include cancer of the lungs, breast and ovaries. Other potential causes of opsoclonus include multiple sclerosis, medication side-effects and toxins. Opsoclonus can also occur as a result of a lesion in the omnipause neurons. This tonically stops the initiation of saccadic eye movements and only starts when triggered by the superior colliculus. Opsoclonus is commonly seen along with myoclonus in a rare condition known as opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome.

What is the Treatment of Opsoclonus?

There is no definite cure for Opsoclonus. There are some medicines which help in treating the symptoms of Opsoclonus. Some of medications used to treat the symptoms are: Adrenocorticotropic hormone helps in some improvement in Opsoclonus. Corticosteroids such as methylprednisolone and prednisone given at high doses for a period of 3 to 5 days can help in rapid decrease of symptoms. The patient needs to be tapered very slowly off steroids. If the cause of Opsoclonus is neuroblastoma or cancer, then chemotherapy can be effective in relieving the symptoms. Immunosuppressive drugs can also help if the cause of Opsoclonus is an autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis. Opsoclonus occurring as a result of certain medications will be relieved after stopping the offending the medicine.


  1. National Organization for Rare Disorders. “Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome.” https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/opsoclonus-myoclonus-syndrome/
  2. American Academy of Neurology. “Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome.” https://www.aan.com/Guidelines/Home/GetGuidelineContent/981
  3. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. “NINDS Opsoclonus Myoclonus Information Page.” https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Opsoclonus-Myoclonus-Information-Page
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 21, 2023

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