[Prism correction in heterophoria]

Ophthalmologe. 2002 Jan;99(1):3-9. doi: 10.1007/pl00007112.
[Article in German]


Unlike heterotropia (= manifest strabismus), heterophoria (= latent strabismus) is not a primarily existing condition but is a reaction to an interruption of the sensory-motor feedback control system. The reaction consists of a deviation from the orthovergence position. Binocular vision causes a continuous calibration of the vergence position. This "orthophorisation" explains that in most persons, heterophoria differs only slightly from zero. Nevertheless, a small heterophoria is common (70-80% of the population). The need to compensate for heterophoria by sensory-motor fusion can cause asthenopic complaints, such as headaches with prolonged reading. Since a variety of other defects can lead to similar symptoms, a causal relationship with heterophoria can be assumed only after a thorough differential diagnosis. Prism spectacles or eye muscle surgery for heterophoria should be recommended only after prism trials in free space, which include yoked prisms as a placebo control. Heterophoria should be distinguished from "Winkelfehlsichtigkeit", which is a deviation from orthoposition that results from the "measuring and correcting methodology after H.-J. Haase" (MKH) and is based on the idea that fixation disparity, a minute deviation from orthovergence position, indicates an inability to overcome a larger "vergence angle at rest". Objective recordings have, however, revealed that the subjective tests with stereo cues applied in the MKH can mislead to the assumption of a fixation disparity although both eyes are aligned exactly to the fixation point. A trial conducted in the Netherlands concerning the therapy of asthenopic complaints showed no statistically significant advantage of prism spectacles determined with the MKH over conventional spectacles.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthenopia / etiology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Eyeglasses*
  • Humans
  • Strabismus / diagnosis
  • Strabismus / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vision Tests