Duane Syndrome | Diagnosis & Treatment

How is Duane syndrome diagnosed?

A pediatric eye specialist can diagnose Duane syndrome by:

  • obtaining a complete medical and family history
  • conducting a full medical exam and vision exam
  • measuring the degree of misalignment in the eyes
  • testing the range of movement of both eyes
  • determining whether an abnormal head turn is used in an attempt to see better 

In addition, the doctor may recommend referral to a primary care doctor or specialist to check for possible disorders associated with Duane syndrome by examining these areas:

  • spine
  • neck
  • hands
  • hearing
  • palate (the roof of the mouth)

How is Duane syndrome treated?

The exact course of treatment will be determined by:

  • age
  • type of Duane syndrome
  • whether there are any related disorders
  • specific symptoms
  • family preferences

Many people with Duane syndrome don't have any symptoms that interfere with their day-to-day lives. There is no obvious misalignment of the eyes, and patients may be able to compensate for their lost or reduced eye movement with just a slight head turn. These people may need nothing more than long-term monitoring by their eye doctor.

Children whose symptoms are more severe — for example, people with a serious degree of eye misalignment, or those who can't see normally without turning their heads to the side — may need eye muscle surgery. Though no surgery can fix the improperly developed cranial nerve that is causing the limited motion in the eye muscle, doctors can use surgery to reposition the other eye muscles — allowing them to work better and keep the eyes in better alignment.

Your treating clinician will work with you to determine the best next steps for your child's particular circumstances.