Lagophthalmos is a medical condition that can make it difficult to fully close the eyes. If left unaddressed, lagophthalmos can leave the eyes vulnerable to serious damage. Or, the condition may indicate that other eye problems are present.
Lagophthalmos is commonly associated with incomplete eye closure when blinking or sleeping. The condition can affect people at any age. However, adults are more prone to incomplete eye closure than children. This is due to the fact that people produce fewer tears as they get older.
People can experience lagophthalmos during the day and at night. Those dealing with incomplete eye closure only at night may be diagnosed with nocturnal lagophthalmos.
Lagophthalmos can occur due to Bell’s palsy, which can cause temporary muscle weakness on one side of the face. Other reasons why people experience lagophthalmos include:
- Moebius syndrome
- Guillain-Barré syndrome or other autoimmune conditions
People dealing with any of the aforementioned issues should watch for lagophthalmos symptoms.
Along with incomplete eye closure, other lagophlthalmos symptoms include:
- Dry eyes
- Watery eyes
- Burning sensation in one or both eyes
- Blurry vision
- Red eyes
At the first sign of any of these symptoms, seek out medical treatment. That way, people can receive proper lagophthalmos diagnosis and treatment.
How Is Lagophthalmos Diagnosed?
An opthamologist (eye doctor) can diagnose lagophlthalmos. Initially, an opthamologist will review a patient’s medical history and learn about their symptoms. The doctor can then perform a full assessment to determine if their patient is dealing with lagophlthalmos or other eye problems.
At the beginning of an assessment, an opthamologist will ask a patient to blink their eyes. This allows the doctor to see if the patient can fully close their lids.
An opthamologist can put a light against a patient’s eyelid. This allows the doctor to see if the light shines through the patient’s upper and lower lids.
In addition, an opthamologist may use a slit lamp during their assessment. A slit lamp is a special microscope that provides an opthamologist with a 3D view of a patient’s eyes.
Following an assessment, an opthamologist will discuss the results with their patient. The doctor can provide their patient with a custom treatment to address their eye problems.
How Is Lagophthalmous Treated?
Many treatment options are available to help patients dealing with lagophthalmos. These treatments include:
1. Eyelid Springs
Eyelid springs, also referred to as palpebral springs, are used to restore normal eyelid function in facial paralysis patients. They help a facial paralysis patient blink normally without any conscious effort required.
Eyelid springs consist of small, metal springs that are surgically implanted into a facial paralysis patient’s eye. Best of all, eyelid springs often result in natural and dynamic eyelid movement and enable a facial paralysis patient to blink normally.
2. Gold Eyelid Weights
Gold eyelid weights have been shown to help facial paralysis patients improve eyelid closure, as well as enhance blinking and alleviate eye dryness. Each gold eyelid weight treatment is customized to a facial paralysis patient based on their etiology. To determine the optimal gold eyelid weight, gold weights of different sizes are attached to a facial paralysis patient’s eyelid. Once a gold eyelid weight is found that helps a facial paralysis patient naturally close their eyelid, the weight is implanted into the upper eyelid.
In most instances, implanting a gold eyelid weight involves incising a facial paralysis patient’s upper eyelid crease and cutting through the eyelid muscle. This exposes the area where the gold eyelid weight is anchored directly with sutures. Finally, the gold eyelid weight uses the power of gravity to close the eyelid, and this allows a facial paralysis patient to blink normally once again.
3. Platinum Eyelid Chains
Platinum eyelid chains are constructed from multiple small platinum pieces that are linked together and help enhance eyelid closure in facial paralysis patients. They offer greater flexibility in comparison to gold eyelid weights. Platinum eyelid chains tend to be less visible than gold eyelid weights, too.
Like gold eyelid weights, platinum eyelid chains come in different sizes and weights. Before a platinum eyelid chain procedure, sample chains are temporarily affixed to the outside of a facial paralysis patient’s eyelid until the right weight for restoring eyelid closure is found. A platinum eyelid chain next is implanted into a facial paralysis patient’s upper eyelid via a small incision in the eyelid crease. Then, the chain is attached to the upper eyelid muscle with sutures and uses gravity to enable a facial paralysis patient to close their eye.
Tarsorrhaphy is a surgical procedure that involves sewing the upper and lower eyelids together. It is sometimes used to treat corneal lesions. Also, tarsorrhaphy may be performed to safeguard the cornea against exposure due to insufficient eyelid coverage caused by Graves’ disease or Bell’s palsy.
5. Self-Treatment Options
Self-treatment options are available to help facial paralysis patients address a variety of lagophthalmos symptoms. For example, artificial tears enable a facial paralysis patient dealing with lagophthalmos to apply eye drops throughout the day to minimize eye dryness and itching. For facial paralysis patients dealing with nocturnal lagophthalmos, moisture goggles are also available to help moisturize the eyes while sleeping.
Treating lagophthalmos can be difficult, particularly for patients who experience the condition in conjunction with other facial paralysis symptoms. But, those who evaluate all of the treatment options at their disposal can address lagophthalmos and facial paralysis at the same time.
What Is the Best Lagophthalmos Treatment?
There is no one-size-fits-all lagophthalmos treatment that works well for all facial paralysis patients, at all times. If a facial paralysis patient has been dealing with incomplete eye closure for eight months or longer, consulting with Dr. Babak Azizzadeh of The Facial Paralysis Institute is ideal.
During a consultation, Dr. Azizzadeh will analyze a facial paralysis patient and their lagophthalmos symptoms. Dr. Azizzadeh then crafts a personalized treatment program designed to help a facial paralysis patient achieve long-term lagophthalmos symptom relief.
Schedule a Lagophthalmos Treatment Consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh
Dr. Azizzadeh is happy to meet with a facial paralysis patient to help him or her identify which lagophthalmos treatment can deliver the best-possible results. To schedule a lagophthalmos treatment consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh, please contact us online or call us today at (310) 657-2203.