Eye Conditions

Facial Palsy

What is Facial Palsy?

Facial Palsy refers to weakness or loss of function of the facial muscles, mainly resulting from temporary or permanent damage to the facial nerve causing paralysis of the affected part of the face.

The inability to make facial expression is not just a cosmetic issue but can cause significant eye health problems, if the eyelids are unable to close fully.

If the eye surface is not protected by the normal blinking movements, without treatment, it can result in significant problems including persistent dry eye, corneal scarring, persistent tearing, eye pain, and loss of vision.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Facial Palsy include:

  • Sore red eye
  • Watery eye
  • Reduced vision
  • Conjunctival or corneal infections
  • Lower lid out-turning (ectropion)
  • Eyebrow droop
  • Cheek drooping
  • Lip biting
  • Mouth drooling
  • Inability to smile on one side
  • Distressing facial asymmetry

What is Facial Palsy?

Facial Palsy refers to weakness or loss of function of the facial muscles, mainly resulting from temporary or permanent damage to the facial nerve causing paralysis of the affected part of the face.

The inability to make facial expression is not just a cosmetic issue but can cause significant eye health problems, if the eyelids are unable to close fully.

If the eye surface is not protected by the normal blinking movements, without treatment, it can result in significant problems including persistent dry eye, corneal scarring, persistent tearing, eye pain, and loss of vision.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Facial Palsy include:

  • Sore red eye
  • Watery eye
  • Reduced vision
  • Conjunctival or corneal infections
  • Lower lid out-turning (ectropion)
  • Eyebrow droop
  • Cheek drooping
  • Lip biting
  • Mouth drooling
  • Inability to smile on one side
  • Distressing facial asymmetry

What causes Facial Palsy?

A number of conditions can cause facial palsy, and sometimes a definitive cause cannot be found. In many cases, facial palsy will improve with time, however it should always be investigated to rule out serious causes.

Potential causes include:

  • Congenital
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Trauma
  • Surgery to remove head tumours
  • Stroke

What treatments are available for Facial Palsy?

Whether temporary or permanent, the main priority of treatment is protection of the eye surface by helping the eyelids achieve better closure.

Frequent eye lubricating drops and ointment, and ensuring the eyelid is closed at nighttime when you sleep with tape or padding of the eyelid are conservative treatments that may provide relief.

If eyelid closure is not recovering with conservative treatments, then surgical options may be explored. Unfortunately, often not one operation will fix all the problems that can be associated with facial palsy and a custom treatment plan will need to be developed to achieve the best outcome possible.

There are surgical techniques to protect the eye, including specific surgery to repair, transfer nerves and occasionally to transplant muscle or tendons to the face from other parts of the body.

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