Leader Heights Eye Center, 309 Leader Heights Road, York, PA 17402 • Phone: (717) 747-5430

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One common form of strabismus, or misaligned eyes, is called exotropia. Exotropia, or “wall-eye,” occurs when an eye turns outward. This occurs most often when a child is focusing on distant objects.

The main sign of exotropia is an eye that is not straight. The exotropia may occur only from time to time, especially when the child is daydreaming, tired, or sick. Parents often notice that the child squints one eye in bright sunlight.

Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” may develop with exotropia, although it is less common than with esotropia (“crossed” eyes), as the deviation is usually intermittent. With amblyopia, children learn to suppress the double vision associated with exotropia so effectively that the deviating eye gradually loses vision. The brain essentially turns it off, and so the neurological connection between the eye and the brain does not develop properly, due to lack of use. It may be necessary to patch the good eye and have the child wear eyeglasses before treating the exotropia with surgery. Prisms, glasses that induce focusing and eye exercises may also occasionally help control the outward turning in some children.

Eye muscle surgery is required when the exotropia happens frequently. The surgery involves adjusting the tension on the eye muscles under general anesthesia. The surgeon may choose to operate on both eyes or just one eye. The goal of surgery is to get the eyes close enough to perfectly straight so that it is hard to see any residual deviation. Surgery is usually quite successful.