MONDAY, March 21, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Surgery can improve eye comfort and quality of life for people with facial paralysis who can't completely close their eyes, according to a small, new study.
The inability to close an eye means a loss of protection for the cornea, which "can lead to exposure keratitis [inflammation of the cornea], corneal ulceration, and potentially permanent vision loss," wrote Dr. Douglas K. Henstrom, of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and colleagues.
"Eyelid weight placement, lower eyelid suspension, and brow ptosis [drooping or sagging of the eyelid] correction are frequently performed to protect the eye," they noted.
The study -- published in the March issue of the journal Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery -- included 37 patients with paralytic inability to completely close their eye who were assessed before and after surgery. Overall, their quality of life improved significantly after surgery.
"Patients also reported a significant decrease in the amount of time their eye felt dry, irritated or scratchy," the researchers wrote in a journal news release.
Two patients developed a bacterial infection of the skin and tissues beneath the skin in reaction to the eyelid weight, and one eyelid weight had to be removed.
"In the overall treatment paradigm for patients with facial paralysis, treating the eye using this modality is simple, and not only improves corneal protection but also yields a significant subjective benefit," the researchers concluded.
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has more about facial paralysis.