What is Oscillopsia? Shaking Vision?

NOTE; As of the beginning of 2015 I developed a more severe oscillopsia than I did when I wrote this and this time it has not gone away; I wake up and go to sleep with it every day! Since then I  have written a better and slightly more informational article on what oscillopsia is so I recommend you check that out by clicking HERE.
Oscillopsia is a very difficult symptom to describe… It’s one of those things where when you have it, you know it. When I had it, it looked like everything was shaking very slightly; very small, short, left to right jumps. Unlike when I had horizontal nystagmus (when my eyes only skipped when scanning my eyes from left to right) oscillopsia caused me to feel like my eyes were shaking non-stop even though I could not see this in the mirror or on a camera like I could with nystagmus.
When we talk about nystagmus, we are referring to an actual shaking of the physical eyes themselves. When we talk about oscillopsia however, we are referring more to the “sensation” or the “illusion” that the world is moving around (oscillating) making it hard to focus on a stationary object when moving your head around or sometimes even when you are sitting still. Oscillopsia can appear to move horizontally, vertically, or even “in and out”.
This can obviously make you nauseous or cause you to lose your balance more easily. Not such a great thing for the typical “already accident prone” MS patient… Another problem (depending on the severity of your oscillopsia) is recognizing someone as you walk towards them (or vice versa) since their face will not be “stable”. Driving is usually not safely possible and can even make you feel sick.
Treatment ?
As far as I know, there is not really anything you can do to treat oscillopsia but wait for it to go away or take some kind of steroid and then… wait… That is what I did (minus the steroids), I waited for a week or two, waking up every morning hoping “today will be the day I can see, look out the window, or just browse my computer”. I think it stuck around for about 2 weeks or so. It was horrible… I hated it more than double vision because at least with that I could wear an eye patch but that didn’t help at all with oscillopsia.

As you can see there is a muscle that moves each eye in every direction. The muscles in both eyes have to work together properly to hold the vision of each eye perfectly aligned. If just on muscle is not functioning properly the eyes will not align either horizontally, vertically, etc but this may more commonly apply to nystagmus than oscillopsia.

55 Responses to What is Oscillopsia? Shaking Vision?

  1. thecrowsgift says:

    I just had a few seconds where my vision was shaking. It was while looking down at my phone. After a few seconds of blinking and consciously focusing, it went away. I wonder if it's serious. My vision has been changing lately which I attributed to age related macular degeneration.

  2. Unknown says:

    I am so happy to see your website. I was first diagnosed with MS, then went to UCLA to get second opinion and it was negative, then they referred me to another neurologist in my area and she thought it was MS. Vision is my recent problem, I have3-5 blackout spells and the sense of shaking….like my brain is in a jar and someone shook the jar. I also have problems focusing….like I am talking to someone and I will take a step back cuz sometimes I feel like they're too close. all of these occur in seconds. When you had this vision problem, did you notice that something is triggering it? like, if you are stressed, does it get worse?

  3. Amblyopia all my life then glauc and cataracts.
    9 months ago I saw thing shaking and worse balance.I gave up driving
    after my first opth said all was fine. I switched opths. first exam all was fine. second exam all fine until I I LOUDLY insisted he better exam me closer before he leaves that room. He did and said, we have to send you to a neuro-opthomolgist(sp) in Seattle and my chart stated "oscilopsia". I went . Specialist ordered MRI on the spot. Never said it but his entire office had MS brochures, groups, plastered everywhere. I told him I did research and figured it was likely MS based on my physical and cognitive changes. he sent me an email that it "could be". I see an MS Specialist next week.I now use a walker and this came down so fast its scary I am a writer and shaking and spasiming now affect my typing. the screen keeps shaking (ha,ha!) Thanks for your site!!!

  4. Amblyopia all my life then glauc and cataracts.
    9 months ago I saw thing shaking and worse balance.I gave up driving
    after my first opth said all was fine. I switched opths. first exam all was fine. second exam all fine until I I LOUDLY insisted he better exam me closer before he leaves that room. He did and said, we have to send you to a neuro-opthomolgist(sp) in Seattle and my chart stated "oscilopsia". I went . Specialist ordered MRI on the spot. Never said it but his entire office had MS brochures, groups, plastered everywhere. I told him I did research and figured it was likely MS based on my physical and cognitive changes. he sent me an email that it "could be". I see an MS Specialist next week.I now use a walker and this came down so fast its scary I am a writer and shaking and spasiming now affect my typing. the screen keeps shaking (ha,ha!) Thanks for your site!!!

  5. Well, usually I would say "hopefully it's NOT MS" but if it IS than you can easily get this symptom treated but you can't really get the meds till your diagnosed. You can try to convince them to get you on steroids which should clear up the vision in time but I suppose that depends on your doctor and what he/she wants to do.

  6. marci frame says:

    Hi Matt, I'm so glad I found your blog. I'm 41 and am healthy, not diagnosed with MS or any other medical condition. I have however been having a lot of hormone imbalance, pre menopause. I've noticed in the last couple weeks these symptoms that you have described with my vision. Almost every other day. Some days I hardly have any episodes and other days I feel like all I do is squint, rub my eyes and try to refocus this "jumping of my vision". Would an eye dr. be able to see this in an exam or what advice do you have for me to go with? At first I thought maybe I was developing diabetes, but I don't think that is the case. Thanks for any advice! Marci

  7. marci frame says:

    Hi Matt, I'm so glad I found your blog. I'm 41 and am healthy, not diagnosed with MS or any other medical condition. I have however been having a lot of hormone imbalance, pre menopause. I've noticed in the last couple weeks these symptoms that you have described with my vision. Almost every other day. Some days I hardly have any episodes and other days I feel like all I do is squint, rub my eyes and try to refocus this "jumping of my vision". Would an eye dr. be able to see this in an exam or what advice do you have for me to go with? At first I thought maybe I was developing diabetes, but I don't think that is the case. Thanks for any advice! Marci

  8. miss potter says:

    Hi Matt
    I'm so glad I found your article. You have given me a name to what has been puzzling me for months– Oscillopsia. I had my first onset of symptoms 2 months ago, and I thought I had nystagmus. It lasted for 2 weeks and then it went away until I had another episode going on for 2 weeks now. My symptoms are shaking vision horizontally that lasts for about 5-6 sec then goes away. There's an interval of 30sec-1min til the next episode happens, and this happens all through out the day. It's getting annoying esp. when I'm working and it makes me dizzy and sometimes it affects my balance, I tried to work around my symptoms when it happens by closing my eyes and move it around or shake my head until my vision steadies. My optometrist and primary care physician have no clue what's wrong with vision, and I was advised to call my doctor's office if my symptoms are still present after 2 weeks so She can refer me to an ophthalmologist. I read alot of ebooks and i don't know if it may have caused or triggered my symptoms. My sisters, who are both nurses, blame my reading habit, and they just conclude it's just eye strain. But does eye strain lasts for weeks? Even if i backed off from reading? I am scared.��
    I was not diagnosed with MS and i would say i am quite healthy, except for my BP which is high normal.
    Did you get any treatment with your Oscillopsia? Or is it something that we are supposed to bear quietly for the rest of our lives?

    • I've had it for 10 years. It's not well understood even within the medical profession and the cognitive and social impact is even less understood. Treatment depends entirely on the cause. I have bilateral vestibular loss and hearing loss since four years ago. But, if you can steady your vision, it might not be oscillopsia.

  9. Andy Fava says:

    Been noticing my oscillopsia since March 2014 (it would only happen maybe once a day and lasted for a few secs), gradually it started becoming worse and worse (but in a very subtle way, so that delayed stuff and it was also being attributed to antidepressant side effects at the time).
    Fast forward December 2014 (by this time I was having balance/dizziness issues and couldn't stand for a long period of time as my legs were feeling so weak) I went to my eye doctor who referred me to neuro-opthalmology to get some tests (visual fields etc) and an MRI was ordered on the spot (the opthalmologist saw that my optic nerves were inflamed; optic neuritis, and suspected MS immediately but he didn't tell me that day although I already had my suspicions).
    Went to a private neurologist and he found some abnormal stuff, brisk reflexes, clonus, positive hoffman, very bad tandem gait. The same neurologist told me to meet him the next day to view my MRI and he saw multiple white matter lesions in my brain and 2 spinal cord lesions and he told me that he suspects progressive MS. Nevertheless I started a 5 day steroid course and 4 days after finishing I noticed some improvement in my vision (oscillopsia started decreasing and vision started becoming sharper as I had optic neuritis).
    On the bright side my 2 spinal lesions have faded and are less visible on MRI (April).
    Up till today (3 months later, June) my oscillopsia decreased a lot, although it has not gone completely and I fear it will take a long time cause its due to damage due to a brainstem lesion (it will take a long while to heal, if it heals!).

    Lifestyle changes: OMS diet, vitamin D supplementation since I was found to have an insufficient level. Not on medication since my neurologist still thinks I have progressive MS and suggested to hold back for now. Next MRI in November 2015. Fingers crossed!

  10. Kristin says:

    I am so grateful to find this. I experience this and I have an array of medical conditions but no MS. I thougbt I was alone in experiencing this. Do you also get flashes of light at night or auras?

  11. Unknown says:

    I dont know if its the same thing or not but its mainly when i fall asleep That i get the shaky vision but also feels like im spinning. Has Anyone els experienced this? Im 20 with two kids and i dont know what this is it scares me and gives me anxiety. When my heart recess it makes it worse it will last a couple seconds then leave and some times come right back unless im up and moving can anyone help me with advise PLEASE!!

  12. I dont know if its the same thing or not but its mainly when i fall asleep That i get the shaky vision but also feels like im spinning. Has Anyone els experienced this? Im 20 with two kids and i dont know what this is it scares me and gives me anxiety. When my heart recess it makes it worse it will last a couple seconds then leave and some times come right back unless im up and moving can anyone help me with advise PLEASE!!

  13. I dont know if its the same thing or not but its mainly when i fall asleep That i get the shaky vision but also feels like im spinning. Has Anyone els experienced this? Im 20 with two kids and i dont know what this is it scares me and gives me anxiety. When my heart recess it makes it worse it will last a couple seconds then leave and some times come right back unless im up and moving can anyone help me with advise PLEASE!!

  14. Ennio Folini says:

    Hi i am 15 – i have a similar issue. When my anxiety kicks in (usually at night) i see everything moving left right left right etc. this stops after i blink a few times but comes back almost immediately. I jave had this for about 2 years and the shaking is happening more frequently since it started. I know my eyes arent moving, it is just the vision that shifts constantly. I assumed that this is because of my anxiety, but im open to other ideas too. Any ideas? Thanks

  15. miss_piggy says:

    I was diagnosed by my neurologist as having Superior Oblique Myokymia. Unfortunately, it's something I have to bear for the rest of my life. I was given two options on how to deal with it: take medication or surgery. I plan to do neither. See your primary care doctor so they can refer you to ophthalmololgist and neurologist and get the right diagnosis and treatment. Goodluck.

  16. Unknown says:

    For about 3 weeks now I started with shaky vision. It is almost day with episodes lasting a few seconds, my headaches have increased. I drink one cup of coffee a day three to five bottles of water a day. I don't drink alcohol or smoke. I'm 7 years sober. Debating going to the doctor since I don't know how to describe it. I will look at something and if I move my eyes even the slightest I have a shaky feeling and need to refocus. I have worn glasses since I was 4 and am 40. No change in my vision in over 5 years. Where do I start? Is this normal?

  17. I went to Neuro in October 2014 wanting to be checked for MS (I have a lot of MS symptoms). Turns out I have MG, Myasthenia Gravis. Dx after my eyes started to shut. Now this shaky vision just happened last month. looking forward to my next appointment! Thanks for sharing this information

  18. Ella Bushell says:

    hey Matt, I started this today, I just kept on shaking my head and it was with my eye's closed what should I do? Or what is it. It goes on about for 4 minutes or 10 minutes I can't stop doing.

  19. Sandy Allen says:

    Hi ive been having trouble with my vision since 2005 till now o yes it is annoying i never like it i had to stop driving because i couldnt see clearly . i am taking a herbal treatment on internet and read it thats called moringa it cures 300 different diseases just go on the and read it i am doing ok its just my shacky vision and bluredness needs to go away.

  20. Darragh says:

    Has anyone experienced this. You are watching moving objects, cars going by or people in a busy restaurant and the background is also moving. This has been going on for about 3 weeks with no change. Makes me dizzy.

  21. Jane England says:

    I seem to get Oscillopsia in my central vision on and off. I also suffer with M S.

  22. shayna says:

    Hey can somebody help me ? I don’t know what is it but often I’ve a feeling like everything is shaking doors fans etc everything , I cannot do anything about it and this problem is with me since my childhood when I was 5.I just wanna know what is this ?

  23. Brittany says:

    Hi I am a 25 year old female just had this happen to me and completely freaked out can u please send any helpfully information I would greatly appreciate it!!!!

  24. Christopher says:

    Sometimes I would look at a wall or just stare at something and it would feel like the entire room was gently shaking from side to side is this a big issue? and is there a name for this or a explanation?

  25. Mike says:

    I have this problem for 4 months now.
    When I look at am object or view especially in the distance it’s like a home video camera shaking, bobbing around…also I get a weird sensation like I have double vision but it’s not?

    My depth perception also seems off and things look like I’m.looking through a magnifier lens..

    I don’t really get balance problems or anything like that, just this…

    It’s making my life hell, I believe it could be toxins (CO), too much stress, or who knows??

    I had a physio telll me it was my cervical occular reflex however I’m not sure…my MRI also came back clear but with asymmetric optic nerve sheaths…

    Anyone shed any light on this, my life has stopped because of it.

  26. Bob belcher says:

    Could this be a symptom of something else?

  27. Shawnee says:

    My eyes feel like they’re shaking sometimes, it doesn’t happen a lot, but usually I’m sitting down, reading a book, or something on my phone, but there was one time I was walking but ended up falling down, because my eyes felt like they were shaking and everything was was spinning

  28. Azadeh says:

    Hi I suffer from my vision shaking since 3years ago.my eyes are OK but everythings are shaking all the times.Im really upset and I don’t know what should I do. Mri was OK and no ms.is there any treatment for my disease?

  29. Singh says:

    I know no one is going to believe me but I have had Oscillopsia. But I knew some of ancient cures which actually do work and I know people will not believe me but so far ever since I did some of my “stuff” my eyesight feels normal I do not have issues anymore. The very first thing I did was mix pure water with apple cider vinegar, put in cotton ball soak it, drip a drop in my left eye for 2-3 days and it stopped. But because I was suspicious, I did another remedy the egg cleansing on myself and it worked. Ancient cures are still ancient cures, they still work. Maybe belief factor works who knows but it worked for me.

  30. Shay says:

    I’m 36 now & have had this problem since I was 10. No Dr can figure out what is the problem. My vision is very shaky, it makes me feel like I just got off of an elevator, even though I’m on level ground. It is now happening consistently throughout the day; several times within a minute. While I drive, at work, watching TV, writing, typing, any activity I do. I can feel when it starts and stops, even if I close my eyes to go to sleep, then it makes me feel like the room is spinning.
    I also have chronic migraines. In addition, One thing I noticed is if I look at patterns, like blinds ( vertical or horizontal) or changes in lighting, this will also trigger the shaking.
    It is also affecting my work very bad BC I have to wait for my vision to stop shaking to continue what I’m doing. With it happening multiple times in a minute which is already bad, I don’t want it worse, I need it better. Honestly, I’m nervous for the future.
    Thank you for your blog. I thought no one else had this problem.

  31. Jayce says:

    Im 14 and I’ll go to bed and have this issue and at first I was thinking someone had drugged me or something then It was happening to me every night. I haven’t told anyone yet and I think I need to, but how important is this to my health and is it something I should be rlly consernd about.

  32. Jayce says:

    Im 14 and I’ll go to bed and have this issue and at first I was thinking someone had drugged me or something then It was happening to me every night. I haven’t told anyone yet and I think I need to, but how important is this to my health and is it something I should be rlly consernd about. I find drinking water helps

  33. Tessa says:

    I think I have this😟 A non severe case, it lasts for about a minute and goes away, it’s scary because it happens at random times.😖 I’m scared

  34. Sarah says:

    It is possible to have a mild case of just this? I don’t have MS but I get this semi frequently – but only for two to three minutes then it goes

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