Featured Science and Innovations
Mapping eye-movement disorders
A 1992 encounter with a toddler whose gaze was frozen downward led Elizabeth Engle, MD, to begin probing the genetics of strabismus, or misalignment of the eyes. Engle, profiled here, is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in the Neurobiology program at Children's Hospital Boston and heads a National Eye Institute-designated strabismus diagnostics center at the hospital.
Engle's work, blending genetics, neuroscience and ophthalmology, and drawing on cases from all over the world, has identified six forms of strabismus that arise from different genetic errors in brainstem motor neuron development. These errors vary, but each prevents one or more muscles that move the eyeball from getting proper nerve stimulation. The resulting eye-movement disorders not only compromise vision, but are often socially isolating. Ultimately, Engle hopes to turn her discoveries into treatments.
Use the interactive below to learn more about the origins of six different eye-movement disorders. Simply mouse over the yellow parts of the illustration.
Note: This interactive requires the Adobe Flash Player plug-in. (If you don't have it, you can download it here.)