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Supranuclear ophthalmoplegia

Definition

Supranuclear ophthalmoplegia is a condition that affects the movement of the eyes.

Causes

This disorder occurs because the brain is sending and receiving faulty information through the nerves that control eye movement. The nerves themselves are healthy.

People who have this problem may have progressive supranuclear palsy. This is a disorder that affects the way the brain controls movement. A brain injury (such as stroke) also can cause supranuclear ophthalmoplegia.

Symptoms

People with this condition are unable to voluntarily move their eyes in all directions, especially looking upward.

Exams and Tests

An exam of the nervous system (neurological examination) may show:

  • Limited eye movements, especially vertical movements
  • Mild dementia
  • Normal vision, hearing, sensation, and voluntary control of other movements
  • Stiff and uncoordinated movements like those of Parkinson disease

The health care provider may do tests to rule out other diseases. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) might show shrinking of the brainstem.

Treatment

The treatment depends on the cause of the supranuclear ophthalmoplegia.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outlook depends on the cause of the supranuclear ophthalmoplegia.

References

Lavin PJM. Neuro-ophthalmology: ocular motor system. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 35.


Review Date: 5/28/2014
Reviewed By: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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