Infantile esotropia linked to developmental delays

Apr 17, 2008

Babies with an eye-alignment disorder called infantile esotropia have delays in motor development milestones, but development “catches up” after corrective surgery, reports a study in the April Journal of AAPOS (American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus).

Led by James R. Drover, PhD, of the Retina Foundation of Southwest Texas, Dallas, the researchers assessed developmental milestones in 161 infants with infantile esotropia, or crossed eyes. These infants need surgery on the eye muscles to correct the alignment. However, it has been unclear whether surgery to correct esotropia influences other aspects of infant development.

To answer this question, the researchers had parents complete an infant development questionnaire before and/or after corrective surgery. The questionnaire assessed fine-motor skills, such as grasping a toy and handling a bottle (sensorimotor development); as well are large-muscle skills, such as sitting, standing, and walking (gross motor development). A group of children with normal eye alignment were studied for comparison.

Before surgery, infants with esotropia had delays in both milestones. The developmental delays appeared as early as four to five months of age and were still present at ten months.

The sensorimotor delays were “particularly profound,” and probably reflected the importance of normal binocular vision (both eyes working together) in fine-muscle tasks. The delays in gross motor development, while not as severe, were still significant.

In contrast, infants tested after esotropia surgery had no delays in developmental milestones. In fact, they actually had a faster rate of sensorimotor development, suggesting that correcting their binocular vision helped their development to “catch up” to that of normal infants.

Infantile esotropia is one of a group of disorders called strabismus, in which the eyes are not aligned normally. Without surgery to correct the problem, depth perception cannot develop. Because vision develops rapidly between three to eight months of age, infantile esotropia might cause delays in developmental milestones—for example, grasping objects, crawling, or walking—that depend on normal vision. However, previous studies were unclear as to whether early surgery helps normal development, partly because many babies with esotropia are not sent for expert evaluation by a pediatric ophthalmologist until they are over one year old.

The new results show that babies with infantile esotropia have significant delays in developmental milestones before surgery, and, suggests that development catches up to normal after surgery to correct eye alignment. Dr. Drover and colleagues suspect that the rapid rate of development after surgery results from the improvement in binocular function.

“Doctors continue to disagree over when is the best time to correct strabismus in children, because most of the focus has been on when it can best help their vision,” comments Dr. David G. Hunter of Children's Hospital Boston and editor-in-chief of the Journal of AAPOS. “This study says that surgery to correct strabismus doesn't just help the eyes—it helps the whole child.”

Source: Elsevier

Explore further: UN Ebola head warns against complacency as fight enters last lap

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Flocks of starlings ride the wave to escape

3 hours ago

Why does it seem as if a dark band ripples through a flock of European starlings that are steering clear of a falcon or a hawk? It all lies in the birds' ability to quickly and repeatedly dip to one side to avoid being attacked. ...

Blue Freedom uses power of flowing water to charge

4 hours ago

Good friends may decide to tell you something that is not true but nonetheless sustaining: Nothing is impossible. That was the case of Blue Freedom co-founder who asked his friend if it would be possible ...

Recommended for you

Third Minnesota turkey farm hit by bird flu outbreak

Mar 28, 2015

An outbreak of a bird flu strain that's deadly to poultry deepened Saturday when state and federal officials confirmed a third Minnesota turkey farm has been infected, this time in one of the state's top poultry producing ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.