Disorders of vergence eye movements

Alessandro Serra, Athena L. Chen, R. John Leigh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: The aim is to re-interpret disorders of vergence in the light of recent studies that view disjunctive eye movements as but one component of three-dimensional gaze control. Recent findings: Most natural eye movements combine vergence with saccades, pursuit and vestibular eye movements. Electrophysiological studies in epileptic patients, as well as evidence from monkeys, indicate that frontal and parietal cortex govern vergence as a component of three-dimensional gaze. Clinicians apply Hering's law of equal innervation to interpret disjunctive movements as the superposition of conjugate and vergence commands. However, electrophysiological studies indicate that disjunctive saccades are achieved by programming each eye's movement independently. Patients with internuclear ophthalmoplegia (INO) may have preserved vergence, which can be recruited to compensate for loss of conjugacy. Vergence may also enable gaze shifts in saccadic palsy. Some forms of nystagmus suppress or change with convergence; co-contraction of the horizontal rectus muscles does not appear to be the explanation. Rather, effects of near viewing on central vestibular mechanisms or differential activation of specific types of extra-ocular muscle fiber may be responsible. Summary: Interpretation of disorders of vergence is aided by applying a scheme in which their contributions to three-dimensional gaze control is considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-37
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • amblyopia
  • epilepsy
  • internuclear ophthalmoplegia
  • nystagmus
  • three-dimensional gaze control
  • vestibulo-ocular reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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