An article published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Paediatrics, Mayo Clinic researchers has said children with misaligned eyes that turn outwards are more likely to develop a mental illness by the time they reach early adulthood.
The medical records of more than 407 patients with strabismus (misaligned eyes) were compared to those of children who had normal eye alignment.
Children with eyes that pointed outwards (exotropia) were three times more likely to display symptoms of a psychiatric disorder when they reached their late teens and early 20s than the control subjects.
Those whose eyes turned inwards (esotropia) were found to have no increased risk of developing mental illnesses.
Mayo Clinic paediatric ophthalmologist Brian Mohney said: "Paediatricians and family practice physicians can hopefully be alert to the earliest signs of psychiatric problems in patients with exotropia, so they can consider having them seen by a psychologist or psychiatrist."
Strabismus affects between three and five percent of children in the US, with around 125,000 new cases recorded each year.
Recently the Eyecare Trust said it thought one in five children had an undiagnosed problem with their vision.
by Adrian Galbreth