Thursday, July 8, 2010

Having Eyes That Turn In or Turn Out Is Correlated With Mental Illness

Having your eyes turn in or out, a medical condition known as strabismus, is correlated with a number of mental illnesses, including depression and suicide.  Mayo Clinic has done a research study comparing a normal group to a group with strabismus.

Mayo Clinic researchers analyzed the medical records of 183 youths younger than 19 in Olmsted County, Minn., who were diagnosed with intermittent exotropia between 1975 and 1994. The researchers matched each youth with another of the same age who did not have a diagnosis of any type of strabismus. Both groups were followed to age 22. Over the 20-year study period, 53 percent of the youths with intermittent exotropia were diagnosed with a mental health disorder, compared with 30 percent of the others. Boys were especially at risk, according to the study, which is in the June 2009 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology. The study found that, among children with intermittent exotropia, mental health disorders were diagnosed in 63 percent of the boys and 47 percent of the girls. By comparison, in the group without such eye problems, mental health disorders were diagnosed in 33 percent of the boys and 28 percent of the girls.
Males with intermittent exotropia had a greater use of psychotropic medication, psychiatric emergency department visits, psychiatric hospital admissions, suicide attempts and suicidal ideation than controls, and females with intermittent exotropia had more suicidal ideation than controls. However, the researchers noted, the reasons for the association between the eye condition and mental health issues are unclear. "A negative bias toward people with strabismus has been demonstrated in children," the researchers wrote. "Although this study focused on mental illness that was diagnosed by early adulthood, there is also evidence to suggest that the social problems associated with strabismus persist and even intensify into adult life." More study is needed to determine whether interventions for intermittent exotropia can decrease or otherwise alter the future development of mental illness.  -- From the SUNY College of Optometry

It will be quite interesting to see if there are actual biochemical mechanisms between strabismus and mental illness or whether mental illness is a result of not fitting in to society because of the handicapped vision, eye-hand coordination, or clumsiness that results from not having eyes that are properly aligned.  

Convergence Insufficiency is a form of strabismus (extropia).  

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