Supranuclear ophthalmoplegia

Toggle: English / Spanish


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

Alternative Names

Progressive supranuclear palsy - supranuclear ophthalmoplegia; Encephalitis - supranuclear ophthalmoplegia; Olivopontocerebellar atrophy - supranuclear ophthalmoplegia; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - supranuclear ophthalmoplegia; Whipple disease - supranuclear ophthalmoplegia; Dementia - supranuclear ophthalmoplegia


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 often have progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). This is a disorder that affects the way the brain controls movement.

Other disorders that have been associated with this condition include:


People with supranuclear ophthalmoplegia are unable to move their eyes at will in all directions, especially looking upward.

Other symptoms may include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask about the symptoms, focusing on the eyes and nervous system.

Tests will be done to check for diseases linked with supranuclear ophthalmoplegia. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) might show shrinking of the brainstem.


The treatment depends on the cause of the supranuclear ophthalmoplegia.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outlook depends on the cause of the supranuclear ophthalmoplegia.


Lavin PJM. Neuro-ophthalmology. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SK, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 44.

Ling H. Clinical approach to progressive supranuclear palsy. J Mov Disord. 2016;9(1):3-13. PMID: 26828211

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 5/30/2016
  • Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, SUNY Stony Brook, School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (

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- 2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.