LOS ANGELES (July 20, 1998) - Infants (9-17 weeks), whose eyes cross are needed to participate in a nationwide congenital esotropia observational study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Chaired by Kenneth Wright, M.D., physician, surgeon and research associate at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the study will be conducted by NIH-certified investigators at 100 participating centers throughout the United States. The study is in progress now, and researchers hope to gather information from 200 babies with the eye disorder by December of 1998.
While it is common for newborns' eyes to turn out (exotropia), it is unusual for them to turn in, or 'cross' (esotropia), says Dr. Wright. "The purpose of this study," he adds, "is to help determine whether treatment at an earlier age might be advisable in certain cases." Very rarely does the disorder ever correct itself. At present, the standard treatment for congenital esotropia is surgery when the child is between six months and two years of age. However, few, if any, of these children develop normal binocular vision (depth perception), and more than half of them require multiple surgeries.
Recent studies show that early intervention before 6 months of age may result in high-grade binocular vision. This current NIH study is designed to learn more about the natural course of congenital esotropia in young infants. It is an observational study only and will not involve experimental testing. Participation will include three to four routine office visits that enable the physician to track development of the baby's eyes and develop a medical history.
"If parents, grandparents, or others notice a baby's eye(s) turning inward, they should ask their pediatrician about it, or call the Congenital Esotropia Research Line at 310-855-2294," says Dr. Wright. There is no cost to patients or insurance companies to participate in this study.