Many patients with facial paralysis lose the ability to completely close their eye on the affected side of their face. This incomplete closure increases the risk of corneal irritation, injury, and infection, as closing the eyelid protects the cornea from foreign objects and helps the eye stay lubricated. At the Facial Nerve Center we perform surgical treatments to help patients protect their eyes and prevent them from drying out. These treatments include thin-profile platinum weight placement, lower lid tightening, lower lid suspension, and tarsorrhaphy. However, often there will be a period between when patients lose movement in their face and when they can undergo surgery to help them close their eyes better. It is vital to protect the eye during this period. Other times, when the face is expected to recover, patients do not need surgical treatment but only need to use drops and other strategies to protect their eyes during the recovery period.
At the Facial Nerve Center, we have a well-established eye care regimen that we recommend for patients having trouble closing their eyes. During the day, patients should use artificial tears whenever their eyes feel scratchy, irritated, and/or dry (even as often as hourly). These keep the eyes lubricated without blurring vision. At night, we recommend patients use an ophthalmic lubricant ointment as this provides longer lasting lubrication than drops provide. In addition, patients often need to tape their affected eye closed at night with a single piece of Transpore or similar tape. Lastly, we recommend performing upper eyelid stretching twice daily as demonstrated below. These strategies will help patients protect their eyes as they recover from facial palsy.