Exotropia is a misalignment in which the child’s eyes turn outward.

Exotropia is a type of strabismus, a vision condition in which the child’s eyes are not properly aligned with each other. In exotropia, the misalignment or deviation of the eyes is outward or away from the nose. Parents often describe the eyes as “drifting out.” There are three major types of exotropia: congenital, intermittent and constant (or full-time).

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small child on a swing

Congenital exotropia treatment

This condition usually is first seen at birth or in early infancy. The eyes are significantly deviated outward and almost never straight, and amblyopia (lack or loss of development in one eye) may or may not be present. Congenital exotropia treatment includes:

  • Patching therapy: A schedule of eye patching is established to develop equal vision in each eye
  • Surgery: When this equal vision is accomplished, strabismus surgery usually is the next step needed to align the eyes

Intermittent exotropia treatment

In this type of exotropia, the eye drifts out intermittently during the day, usually when a child is sick, tired or looking at a distant target. In bright sunlight, the child may be seen squinting one eye shut. Parents may first notice the eye drifting between age 2 and 4 years, but it may show up earlier or later in some children. Without treatment, an intermittent exotropia can increase in frequency, and the eye can be seen in a drifted, outward position for longer periods of time. Intermittent exotropia treatment includes:

  • Glasses: If needed
  • Patching therapy: A schedule of eye patching may improve a child’s ability to control an intermittent exotropia to a point where a parent may no longer see the eye drift
  • Surgery: If patching does not restore muscle control, strabismus surgery may be needed

Constant exotropia treatment

In this condition, exotropia is seen all of the time. This usually is seen in a child with an intermittent exotropia who has deteriorated to a point where the eye is constantly drifted and misaligned. At this point strabismus surgery usually is recommended in an attempt to restore the eye’s alignment.

Your Henry Ford pediatric ophthalmologist will recommend the best treatment based on your child’s unique needs, and work with you every step of the way.

At Henry Ford, patients come first.

The Henry Ford Department of Ophthalmology is committed to providing our patients with compassionate, personalized care. We feature the most advanced treatments in eye care and are dedicated to vision research – always staying at the forefront of innovation. A leader in Michigan, as well as one of the largest ophthalmology practices in the United States, we treat more than 55,000 patients per year at 12 locations throughout southeast Michigan. In addition, our team works closely with Henry Ford Medical Group physicians in other departments, providing multidisciplinary, coordinated care for those patients who need it.

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Call (800) 363-7575 or submit an appointment request.

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