What is Facial Paralysis?

Facial paralysis describes the inability to fully use the muscles innervated by the facial nerve. When the facial nerve is damaged, it causes weakness on one side of the face leading to decreased tone of the eyebrow, inability to close the eyes, and also results in loss of taste, decreased salivation, and hearing disorders. The inability to close the affected eye fully (called lagophthalmos) can cause chronic ocular surface irritation, corneal damage, and permanent vision loss. The muscle weakness can last for weeks, months, or be permanent depending on the cause of nerve damage.

facial paralysis image

Causes of facial paralysis:

  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • Tumors
  • Stroke

Treatment of Facial Paralysis

Treatment of facial nerve paralysis consists of both topical and invasive procedures that help protect the cornea. Preserving vision is the goal of treatment. Utilization of topical lubricating drops and ointments to nourish the ocular surface is usually the initial treatment and may be the only treatment necessary in mild cases. In more severe cases with extended duration of lagophthalmos and corneal damage, measures are taken to temporarily or permanently assist in eyelid closure. This can be accomplished with the use of neuromodulators such a Botox, Jeuveau, or Xeomin, by stitching the eyelid closed (tarsorrhaphy), or by placing a gold weight in the upper eyelid.

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