Heterophoria is a type of eye
Human eye
The human eye is an organ which reacts to light for several purposes. As a conscious sense organ, the eye allows vision. Rod and cone cells in the retina allow conscious light perception and vision including color differentiation and the perception of depth...

 condition in which the directions that the eyes are pointing are not consistent with each other. A person with two normal eyes has single vision (usually) because of the combined use of the sensory and motor systems. The motor system acts to point both eyes at the target of interest; any offset is detected visually (and the motor system corrects it). Heterophoria only occurs during dissociation of the left eye and right eye, when fusion of the eyes is absent. If you cover one eye (e.g. with your hand) you remove the sensory information about the eye's position in the orbit. Without this, there is no stimulus to binocular fusion, and the eye will move to a position of "rest". The difference between this position, and where it would be were the eye uncovered, is the heterophora.

Heterophoria is usually asymptomatic
In medicine, a disease is considered asymptomatic if a patient is a carrier for a disease or infection but experiences no symptoms. A condition might be asymptomatic if it fails to show the noticeable symptoms with which it is usually associated. Asymptomatic infections are also called subclinical...

. This is when it is said to be "compensated". When fusional reserve is used to compensate for heterophoria, it is known as compensating vergence. In severe cases, when the heterophoria is not overcome by fusional vergence, sign and symptoms appear. This is called decompensated heterophoria.
Heterophoria may lead to squint or also known as strabismus
Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes are not properly aligned with each other. It typically involves a lack of coordination between the extraocular muscles, which prevents bringing the gaze of each eye to the same point in space and preventing proper binocular vision, which may adversely...


Etiology of Heterophoria

In order to understand how heterophoria occurs,we must understand of how the eye can maintain proper fixation with non aligned visual axis. Heterophoria is actually the misalignment of the visual axis of both eyes. In other words, one or both eyes are not properly fixated to an object of interest. However, we must know that the eyes have a fusional vergence system which corrects this misalignment.

Manifestation of Heterotropia

When the fusional vergence system can no longer hold back heterophoria, the phoria becomes manifest. In this condition, the eyes deviate from the fixating position.

External links

  • Animation at mrcophth.com
  • http://eyes.cochrane.org/glossary
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