Is intermittent exotropia a curable condition?

J. M. Holmes, S. R. Hatt, D. A. Leske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Surgical treatment of childhood intermittent exotropia (XT) is associated with high recurrence rates. In addition, the natural history of intermittent XT has not been rigorously studied and, anecdotally, some cases resolve without surgery. We compared long-term cure rates in children with surgically and non-surgically managed intermittent XT. Children undergoing surgery for intermittent XT who had 5 years follow-up were retrospectively identified. A non-surgical cohort of comparable children was selected by matching each surgical patient for age at onset and age at the 5-year examination. Cure was defined as no manifest tropia on examination or by history, no new monofixation (stereoacuity subnormal for age), and no additional surgery. Each group had 33 children (total follow-up from presentation 7.2±2.6 years in the surgical group vs 6.8±2.3 years). There were no significant differences between groups for age at onset, age at presentation, or distance or near angle of deviation at presentation (all P≥0.4). The cure rate at 5 years was 30% in the surgical group and 12% in the non-surgical group (P=0.1; difference 18%, 95% CI -1 to 37%). Only a small proportion of surgical and non-surgical patients met our definition of cure, with the vast majority demonstrating a constant or intermittent manifest deviation after an average of 7 years follow-up. In childhood intermittent XT, long-term cure is difficult to achieve with surgical intervention, and in some patients managed non-surgically the intermittent XT will spontaneously resolve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-176
Number of pages6
JournalEye (Basingstoke)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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