Eye Surgery Helps Patients with Facial Paralysis

Posted on April 13, 2011 | by

Thanks to an innovative group of doctors, many people who were unable to fully close their eyes due to facial paralysis can now blink freely, according to a study published in the March issue of Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery. By carefully modifying the eyelids or eyebrows in order to allow the eyelids to drop further down, the doctors were able to assist patients in completely closing their eyes.

The inability to close an eye can be serious for sufferers of facial paralysis. The eyelid protects the cornea, the transparent part of the eye that covers the pupil and iris, from dry air and dust particles. Without that protection, say the authors of the report, this “can lead to exposure keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), corneal ulceration and potentially permanent vision loss.”

Researchers from the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary performed various procedures on 37 patients who were unable to close one or both eyes due to facial paralysis. These procedures, which occurred between March 2009 and May 2010, involved either placing weight on eyelids, lowering the suspension of the eyelid, or correcting for drooping eyebrows.

Although two patients developed bacterial infections as a result of the eyelid weight, overall the patients reported significant improvements in their quality of life, as well as a decrease in dryness, irritation, and scratchiness.