Infantile strabismus is accompanied by latent nystagmus, primary inferior oblique muscle overaction, and dissociated vertical divergence. If we examine the evolutionary underpinnings of these ocular rotations, we can construct a unifying mechanism for the sensorimotor abnormalities that arise in humans with infantile strabismus. Latent nystagmus, primary inferior oblique muscle overaction, and dissociated vertical divergence correspond to visual balancing reflexes that are operative in lateral-eyed animals in yaw, pitch, and roll, respectively. In humans with infantile strabismus, these subcortical visual reflexes are reactivated by a physiologic imbalance in binocular visual input, which resets central vestibular tone in 3-dimensional space. These visual reflexes reveal the evolutionary role of the eyes as sensory balance organs that can directly modulate central vestibular tone. Latent nystagmus, primary oblique muscle overaction, and dissociated vertical divergence should be reclassified as visuo-vestibular eye movements.
ASJC Scopus subject areas