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Surv Ophthalmol. 2007 Mar-Apr;52(2):121-44.

Ophthalmic management of facial nerve palsy: a review.

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Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, Manchester, United Kingdom.


Facial nerve palsy affects individuals of all ages, races, and sexes. Psychological and functional implications of the paralysis present a devastating management problem to those afflicted, as well as the carriers. Since Sir Charles Bell's original description of facial palsy in 1821, our understanding and treatment options have expanded. It is essential that a multidisciplinary approach, encompassing ophthalmologists; Ear, Nose, and Throat surgeons; plastic surgeons; and psychologists work closely to optimize patient management in a staged approach. Although the etiology remains unknown, strong histological, cerebral spinal fluid, and radiological evidence suggests a possible association with herpes simplex virus in idiopathic facial nerve palsy (Bell's palsy). The use of steroids has been suggested as a means of limiting facial nerve damage in the acute phase. Unfortunately, no single randomized control trial has achieved an unquestionable benefit with the use of oral steroid therapy and thus remains controversial. In the acute phase, ophthalmologists play a pivotal role in preventing irreversible blindness from corneal exposure. This may be successfully achieved by using intensive lubrication, medical therapy (botulinum toxin), or surgery (upper lid weighting or tarsorraphy). Once the cornea is adequately protected and recovery deemed unlikely, longer term planning for eyelid and facial reanimation may take place in an individualized manner. Onset is sudden and management potentially lengthy. Physician empathy, knowledge, and experience are essential in averting long-term lifestyle and psychological discomfort for patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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