Esotropia is a condition that causes one or both eyes to turn inward. This form of eye misalignment is known as strabismus.
It can be intermittent or constant, and the in-turning position of the eye(s) can be limited to a single eye, both eyes at once, or it can alternate between eyes. In infants, instances of esotropia are quite common, but they tend to resolve themselves on their own as the child continues to develop.
It’s important to note that esotropia is different from exotropia. In esotropia, the eye or eyes turn inward; in exotropia, they turn outward.
What Causes Esotropia?
Esotropia is a form of strabismus or eye misalignment. Strabismus can be the result of an eye injury or certain health conditions. However, most often, it is caused by an issue with either the nerves that communicate with the eye muscles, the part of the brain that controls eye movement, or the eye muscles themselves.
There are a number of risk factors connected to the development of esotropia, including the following:
- Genetic disorders
- Overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)
- Certain neurological disorders
- Premature birth
- Excess fluid on the brain (hydrocephalus)
- Duane syndrome
- Down syndrome
- Cerebral palsy
- Stroke or head injury
There are various treatments for esotropia that may be effective depending on the severity of the case. If you think that you suffer from eye misalignment, contact your doctor.
How Esotropia is Classified?
Esotropia can be classified based on a number of different characteristics, such as how frequently strabismus occurs, when it begins, and options for treatment.
How Frequently it Occurs
Some instances of esotropia are constant, meaning the eye is always turned inward, while others are intermittent, meaning the in-turning can occur randomly and for varying lengths of time.
When It Begins
Infantile (or congenital) esotropia is when a child shows signs of the condition within two to four months of being born. This happens rather frequently, but in most cases, the issue will correct itself. Acquired esotropia is when the eye misalignment occurs later in life. That can be due to a number of medical conditions, such as eye injury, surgeries, and more.
Symptoms related to esotropia include the following:
- One or both eyes turning inward
- Eyes that move out of sync
- Double vision
- Frequent squinting
- Frequent blinking
- A need to adjust the head to see properly
- Poor depth perception
If you or your child suffer from any of these symptoms, consult your physician.
When you visit your optometrist to attempt a diagnosis of your esotropia, they will first speak with you about your symptoms and medical history. Then, they will likely perform a visual exam to determine how much your eye misalignment is affecting your vision. Depending on the results of the exam, your doctor may also perform the following tests.
Eye Health Exam
Several different tests can help to determine if the structures of your eyes are working as they should.
Focusing and Alignment
Esotropia can cause the eyes to move out of sync and make it difficult for both of them to focus on a single object. Your doctor may conduct tests of your misaligned eye’s ability to shift focus and remain in sync with the other eye.
Some instances of esotropia can be the result of farsightedness, which is considered a refractive error. Your doctor may give you a test to determine the affected eye’s refractive power.
When the eye misalignment can be treated with glasses, it’s known as accommodative (or refractive) esotropia. When doctors cannot treat the issue with glasses, it is known as non-accommodative esotropia.
Because esotropia has various potential causes and characteristics that can vary widely, possible treatments also differ. Your eye doctor will consider several factors when determining treatment, including the following:
- How long the condition has been present
- Whether it affects one or both eyes
- How severe the condition is
- Whether it is accommodative or non-accommodative
Depending on these factors and more, your doctor will likely suggest one of the following treatments:
Otherwise known as vision therapy, this treatment aims to strengthen the muscles and improve the vision of the misaligned eye.
Otherwise known as vision therapy, this treatment is aimed at strengthening the muscles and improving the vision of the misaligned eye.
Certain instances—most often involving infants—may require a surgical procedure to adjust the muscles connected to the esotropia.
Botulinum toxin injections can be used to treat mild cases of esotropia in certain instances.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about esotropia.
Can Esotropia Be Corrected?
Treatment for esotropia can be successful, particularly in children under the age of two, but there are instances when the condition can be challenging to treat.
Will Esotropia Go Away on Its Own?
When it occurs in infants less than 20 weeks old, esotropia will resolve all on its own more often than not. However, in any person more senior than that, treatment most likely will be required.
Is Esotropia Serious?
Esotropia is relatively common in infants and toddlers and is not serious in these instances. Still, if you suddenly experience esotropia as an adult, it may be a sign of a severe medical issue, so consult a physician immediately.