Mental illness in young adults who had strabismus as children

Brian G. Mohney, Jeff A. McKenzie, Jason A. Capo, Kevin J. Nusz, David Mrazek, Nancy N. Diehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objective. We investigated the prevalence and types of psychiatric disorders diagnosed by early adulthood among patients who had common forms of strabismus as children. Methods. The medical records of children (<19 years) who were diagnosed as having esotropia (N = 266) or exotropia (N = 141) while residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota, between January 1, 1985, and December 31, 1994, were reviewed retrospectively for psychiatric disease diagnoses. Each case subject was compared with a randomly selected, individually birth- and gender-matched, control subject from the same population. Results. A mental health disorder was diagnosed for 168 (41.3%) of the 407 patients with a history of childhood strabismus, who were monitored to a mean age of 17.4 years, compared with 125 control subjects (30.7%). Children with exotropia were 3.1 times more likely to develop a psychiatric disorder than were control subjects when monitored to a mean age of 20.3 years. Children with esotropia were no more likely to develop mental illness than were control subjects when monitored for similar periods. Patients with intermittent exotropia also were significantly more likely to have greater numbers of mental health disorders, mental health emergency department visits, and mental health hospitalizations and to have suicidal or homicidal ideation. Conclusions. Children diagnosed as having strabismus in this population, especially those with exotropia, were at increased risk for developing mental illness by early adulthood. Patients with intermittent exotropia seemed to be particularly prone to developing significant psychiatric diseases by the third decade of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1038
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Esotropia
  • Exotropia
  • Mental illness
  • Psychiatric disease
  • Strabismus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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