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Key Features

  • Pseudoesotropia can result from prominent epicanthal folds that give the appearance of crossed eyes when they are actually straight

  • Esotropia is deviation of the eyes toward the nose and may involve one or both eyes

Clinical Findings

  • Congenital esotropia (infantile esotropia)

    • Has its onset in the first year of life in healthy infants

    • Deviation of the eyes toward the nose is large and obvious

    • Also occurs in premature infants or children with a complicated perinatal history associated with CNS problems such as intracranial hemorrhage and periventricular leukomalacia

  • Accommodative type of acquired esotropia is most common

    • Onset is usually between ages 2 and 5 years

    • Deviation is variable in magnitude and constancy and is often accompanied by amblyopia

    • Can be associated with a high hyperopic refraction; another type of deviation is worse with near than with distant vision and is usually associated with lower refractive errors

  • Esotropia is associated with certain syndromes

    • In Möbius syndrome (congenital facial diplegia), a sixth nerve palsy causing esotropia is associated with palsies of the 7th and 12th cranial nerves and limb deformities

    • Duane syndrome can affect the medial or lateral rectus muscles (or both); may be an isolated defect or may be associated with a multitude of systemic defects (eg, Goldenhar syndrome)

  • After age 5 years, any esotropia of recent onset should arouse suspicion of CNS disease


  • Observation of the reflection of a penlight on the cornea, the corneal light reflex, is an accurate means of determining if the eyes are straight

  • If strabismus is present, the corneal light reflex will not be centered in both eyes

  • Observation of eye movements may reveal restriction of eye movements in certain positions of gaze

  • Alternate cover testing of the eyes while the child is fixating on a near and/or distant target will reveal refixation movements if the eyes are crossed

  • Motility, cycloplegic refraction, and a dilated funduscopic examination by an ophthalmologist are necessary to determine the etiology of esotropia

  • Some children require imaging studies and neurologic consultation


  • Surgery is typically performed between 6 months and 2 years of age in order to obtain optimal results

  • Management of accommodative esotropia includes glasses with or without bifocals, amblyopia treatment and, in some cases, surgery

  • Underlying neurologic disease should be referred to the appropriate specialists for further management

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