Duane Retraction syndrome

Also known as: Duane syndrome


Duane retraction syndrome (DRS) results in abnormal horizontal eye movements from birth. The affected eye is restricted from turning outwards or inwards or in both directions and there may be a squint (strabismus) when looking straight ahead. It is possible to have good vision in each eye with stereo vision – where two images (one from each eye) are combined in the brain to give one image. However, in order to maintain stereo vision, individuals with DRS may turn their face. Up to 30 per cent of children with DRS may have associated difficulties such as bony problems (particularly with the spine and forearm) and hearing difficulties.

DRS is thought to be due an abnormality in early fetal development at about three weeks. Management of the condition is aimed at achieving straight eyes when an individual looks ahead. If there is an unsightly narrowing of the eye, surgery to relax the eye muscles may help. Some forms of DRS run in families, but these are extremely rare. Affected families should be referred to a genetics centre for information and support.

This overview is intended to be a basic description of the condition. It is not intended to replace specialist medical advice. We advise that you discuss your child’s case with a qualified medical professional who will be able to give you more detailed information.


Medical text approved December 2012 by Dr Jenny Fisken (retired), formerly Associate Specialist in Community Paediatrics, North Yorkshire and York PCT.

Is there support?

There is no support group for duane retraction syndrome in the UK. Families can use Contact’s freephone helpline for advice, information and, where possible, links to other families. To meet other families with disabled children, join Contact’s closed (private) Facebook group.

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