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What Is Exotropia?

Exotropia is a form of strabismus which is an eye misalignment that turns either one or both of the eyes outward. It is thought that only 1 to 2% of the population have exotropia, however; it’s actually more common now than it used to be. Exotropia can occur intermittently or be constant.

You can read all about it below, as well as watch Dr. Julie go into great detail in this video.

There are different types of exotropia. Congenital exotropia is present at birth, whereas intermittent exotropia and sensory exotropia also exists in patients and can be diagnosed at any age.

Congenital Exotropia

Either called infantile or congenital exotropia, this outward turning of the eyes occurs at birth or early on in the baby’s life. Not as common as the eyes crossing inward (esotropia), exotropia that develops in an infant can be associated with other pediatric conditions.

Intermittent Exotropia

This form of strabismus, intermittent exotropia, is not a constant drifting of the eyes(s) outwards. Instead, it can become more prominent when the patient or family member is tired or not focusing, staring off into the distance. This type of exotropia is not as common and quite often, people that have it may have little or no symptoms. However, over time, intermittent exotropia can progress and become more evident.

If you or your loved one have intermittent exotropia, a slight outward drifting of the eye may be apparent when feeling tired, sick or after use of electronic devices. The exotropia may cause the patient to feel as if their eye isn’t in alignment, or someone may point out that they are noticing a slight outward appearance of the eye’s direction. In children, they may squint or rub their eye, especially in bright sunlight, once they start feeling the occasional drifting of the eye.

Sensory Exotropia

When the eye with poor or reduced eyesight is struggling to work with the other eye, the poorly seeing eye may have an inclination to drift in an outward direction, causing sensory exotropia. This kind of exotropia can occur in individuals of any age, and since the vision problem is treatable, it should be addressed immediately. Like other forms of exotropia, contacting Vision For Life is highly recommended so the eye turn can be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

Exotropia: is it hereditary?

When the eyes have misalignment issues (strabismus), it can run in families. This doesn’t necessarily mean the type and severity of strabismus will be the same. If you have a family member with a form of exotropia or other type of strabismus, it makes sense to contact Vision For Life for a vision evaluation as soon as possible. Other symptoms that may occur with exotropia include blurred vision, double vision, headaches, eye strain, inability to focus and a feeling of motion sickness.

Vision For Life has a variety of exercises and vision therapy treatments to treat convergence insufficiency (the inability for the eyes to work together) that occurs with exotropia. With vision therapy, the underlying cause of exotropia can be treated to improve the eye-brain connection and retrain the patient’s visual skills needed for binocular vision.

If you suspect that your child or loved one is suffering from exotropia, contact Vision For Life as soon as possible so that he/she can be properly diagnosed and begin to receive a personalized vision therapy treatment. The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the sooner their vison can be improved. Learn more at or call us at 618-288-1489.