Why does early surgical alignment improve stereoacuity outcomes in infantile esotropia?

J AAPOS. 2000 Feb;4(1):10-4. doi: 10.1016/s1091-8531(00)90005-3.


Purpose: Recent studies of infantile esotropia suggest that early surgical alignment may enhance stereopsis and that alignment during the first 6 months of life may be optimal. Early surgery both establishes alignment during an early critical period for the development of stereopsis and minimizes the duration of misalignment. Here we examine the role of these 2 factors in promoting improved stereopsis outcomes.

Methods: Participants were 129 consecutive patients enrolled in a prospective study of infantile esotropia who were followed up for a minimum of 5 years. At ages 5 to 9 years, Randot stereopsis was evaluated.

Results: Multiple linear regression indicated that duration of misalignment, but not age at alignment or age at onset, was a significant factor in determining random dot stereopsis outcomes. Moreover, patients with stereopsis were less likely to have a loss of horizontal eye alignment requiring surgery than patients without stereopsis (14% versus 32%; z = 1.96, P =.05). Patients with stereopsis were also less likely to have dissociated vertical deviation than patients without stereopsis (25% versus 63%; z = 3.36, P <.001).

Conclusions: The results suggest that early surgical alignment is associated with better stereopsis in those patients with infantile esotropia who were treated during the first 24 months of life, because early surgery minimizes the duration of misalignment, not because alignment is achieved during an early critical period of visual maturation. Random dot stereopsis can also be achieved in patients with alignment provided that the duration of misalignment is not prolonged. Improved outcomes of random dot stereopsis are associated with more stable long-term alignment outcomes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depth Perception / physiology*
  • Esotropia / physiopathology
  • Esotropia / surgery*
  • Eye Movements
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Oculomotor Muscles / physiopathology
  • Oculomotor Muscles / surgery*
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*