Q. I cannot move my eye outwards. Do you think it is sixth nerve palsy?

Answered by
Dr. Pooja Bandivadekar
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jan 31, 2017 and last reviewed on: Apr 02, 2021

Hi doctor,

Last week, I started experiencing double vision. I went to the ER and was told that I need to see my eye doctor. The next day, I went to the eye doctor, and he did a field test. He told me a nerve was messed up in my eye due to diabetes. He said it could take a few months to heal and that I could wear a patch or a prism until then. I decided on the prism, but recently it does not seem to be working as well as when I first got it. My eye doctor did not tell me the specific name of what I have. I have done some research online, and it sounds like 6th nerve palsy. My eye will not move to the outside, and it looks like I am slightly cross-eyed when I look straight. I have not had any symptoms other than double vision. Sometimes, I am getting little headaches from straining my eye, but nothing serious. Do you think it is 6th nerve palsy? Is there any type of exercise to speed up the healing process?



Welcome to icliniq.com.

  • Since you cannot move your eye outwards, you seem to have sixth nerve palsy (Abducent nerve). We need to investigate its cause and then contemplate a cure.
  • The most common cause for 6th nerve palsy are as follows:
  1. Increase in intracranial pressure.
  2. Some space occupying lesion pressing the nerve.
  3. Diabetic vasculopathy.
  4. Vasculitis due to any other cause.
  5. Idiopathic.
  • So, you need to get your retina checked to rule out disc edema. Also, a CT scan to rule out any compressive mass is advised. Do get your sugars checked.
  • Once we have ruled out treatable causes, then idiopathic sixth nerve palsy is likely.
  • It recovers on its own with time, and there is very little to stimulate its recovery. Usually, the recovery takes six months to 1 year.
  • You can get your prism prescription rechecked as your squint might have improved. Also, occlusion is a good option. The remainder squint at one year can be corrected surgically with good outcomes.
  • You can post a picture of your eyes so we can ascertain the type of nerve palsy.

Revert with the photos to an eye care ophthalmologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/eye-care-ophthalmologist

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