Can misalignments in typical infants be used as a model for infantile esotropia?

Horwood,A, Riddell,P Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2004;45(2), 714-720

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  • Infants below 3 months of age converge better to targets moving towards them, in comparison to those moving away. This bias stops once cortical binocularity develops, but may be the foundation for increasing esotropia if BV is defective.


To investigate the nature of early ocular misalignments in human infants to determine whether they can provide insight into the etiology of esotropia and, in particular, to examine the correlates of misalignments.


A remote haploscopic photorefraction system was used to measure accommodation and vergence in 146 infants between 0 and 12 months of age. Infants underwent photorefraction immediately after watching a target moving between two of five viewing distances (25, 33, 50, 100, and 200 cm). In some instances, infants were tested in two conditions: both eyes open and one eye occluded. The resultant data were screened for instances of large misalignments. Data were assessed to determine whether accommodative, retinal disparity, or other cues were associated with the occurrence of misalignments.


The results showed that there was no correlation between accommodative behavior and misalignments. Infants were more likely to show misalignments when retinal disparity cues were removed through occlusion. They were also more likely to show misalignments immediately after the target moved from a near to a far position in comparison to far-to-near target movement.


The data suggest that the prevalence of misalignments in infants of 2 to 3 months of age is decreased by the addition of retinal disparity cues to the stimulus. In addition, target movement away from the infant increases the prevalence of misalignments. These data are compatible with the notion that misalignment are caused by poor sensitivity to targets moving away from the infant and support the theory that some forms of strabismus could be related to failure in a system that is sensitive to the direction of motion.