What is Exotropia?

Exotropia is a condition where one or both the eyes turn outward away from the nose. It is a type of ‘Strabismus’ (misalignment of the eyes) and approximately 4% of people in the United States suffer from it. It can happen to any person, regardless of the age. Its symptoms can be seen early especially in young children.

Types of Exotropia

  1. Congenital Exotropia: People suffering from this condition have an outward turning of the eye. It mostly happens early in infancy or at the time of birth to newborns. It is also known as ‘Infantile Exotropia’ or ‘Physiologic Exotropia.’
  2. Acquired Exotropia: It is a type of Exotropia which results from any disease, trauma or any other health One might get an increased Acquired Exotropia after a stroke or when suffering from down syndrome.
  3. Sensory Exotropia: Sensory Exotropia can occur at any age. It happens due to the poor vision of the eyes which causes them to turn outward.
  4. Intermittent Exotropia: It is the most common form and affects twice. It can either occur infrequently or at times becomes constant.
  5. Convergence insufficiency: This type common in teenagers and occurs due to a surgical overcorrection.

Causes of Exotropia

Usually when the eye muscles do not work properly, or there is a problem between the brain and the eye contact, Exotropia occurs. About 30 percent of children happen to be a victim because of any family member suffering from the same condition.

  • Weak extraocular muscles (Muscles controlling the eye movement)
  • Eye injuries
  • Head trauma
  • Stroke or cataracts


  • Vision problem (double vision, lazy eye, amblyopia)
  • The outward turning of the eyes, either one or both
  • Rubbing of the eyes, frequently
  • Trying to see the objects far away
  • Photophobia (sensitive to light)
  • Double vision

Complications involved

  • Headaches
  • Problems in reading
  • Eyestrain
  • Blurred vision
  • Poor 3-D vision


Consult an ophthalmologist or optometrist, a doctor who specializes in the eyes. The diagnosis is usually made by taking account of the family history, vision test or other health conditions. The tests include:

  • Reading letters from the eye test chart (Vision test)
  • Placing a series of lenses to see the refraction of light
  • Tests for examining the focus of the eye
  • Doctor to examine the internal eye structure through widening the pupils


The treatment includes the process to impair the vision as well getting the eyes to align as much as possible.

Eye Exercises

The doctor may suggest certain exercises for the eye so that it can build an improved vision.

Patching or Vision Therapy

Patching of the ‘good’ eye is suggested by the doctors so that the weaker eye is used more to see. This way it will improve the strength of the eye while providing a more clear vision.


Near or farsightedness glasses will help in aligning the eyes.


Exotropia surgery is a procedure where the eye muscle exposes after making a small incision in the tissue covering the eye. For proper movement of the eye, the muscles are adjusted to their positions. The recovery usually takes about two weeks after the surgery.

An eye doctor may prescribe certain medications including the pain relievers, antibiotics, and eye-drops. They may also advise you to take extra care of the eye, for example, wear protective eyewear, and avoid swimming for some days.

When to contact the doctor?

  • If you see any sign of Infections (Dizziness, Headaches, Fever)
  • Pain, redness, swelling, bleeding in the surgical area
  • New symptoms appear
  • Drugs, if taken, after the surgery

Concluding Remarks

Exotropia is a very common condition among the young ones and is curable. If one notices any misalignment in the eye, they should consult the doctor immediately. The effects are harmful, but when taken care on time, one can get rid of it, instantly.

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