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Special Article
September 1999

Dissociated Vertical Divergence: A Righting Reflex Gone Wrong

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1999;117(9):1216-1222. doi:10.1001/archopht.117.9.1216

Dissociated vertical divergence (DVD) is an ocular motor disorder characterized by a slow, upward drift of 1 eye when the other eye is fixating a target. I propose that DVD is a dorsal light reflex in which asymmetrical visual input to the 2 eyes evokes a vertical divergence movement of the eyes. This primitive visuo-vestibular reflex functions as a righting response to restore vertical orientation in lower lateral-eyed animals by equalizing binocular visual input. The dorsal light reflex is suppressed in humans but can manifest as DVD when early-onset strabismus precludes normal binocular development.