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The Impact of Bell's Palsy on Vision

Bell's Palsy is a condition that causes sudden, temporary weakness or paralysis on one side of the face. This can affect vision in a number of ways, making it important for individuals with Bell's Palsy to seek the help of our optometrist. Bell’s palsy can be a very frustrating and painful condition to endure. For those where recovery is not complete, the change in the appearance of one’s facial features can be a dramatic change. Fortunately, most recover completely with no increased chance of reoccurrence.

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The Impact of Bell's Palsy on Vision Optometrist
Table of Contents

Eyelid Drooping: A Common Consequence of Bell's Palsy

Bell's Palsy can cause weakness or paralysis in the muscles that control the eyelid, leading to drooping or sagging of the eyelid on one side of the face. This can make it difficult to keep the eye closed and can result in dry eye syndrome and an increased risk of eye infections. In some cases, the drooping eyelid may also affect the person's appearance, causing cosmetic concerns.

Seeing Double with Bell's Palsy: Understanding its Causes and Treatment

Bell's Palsy can cause double vision because the eyes are no longer working together in harmony. This can be due to a misalignment of the eyes caused by the weakened or paralyzed muscles controlling the eyelid and eye movement. This double vision can be confusing and disruptive to daily activities and can be treated with special glasses, vision therapy,  or eye patches.

Is blurry, fuzzy, or double vision impacting your quality of life and vision? Take our online double vision assessment to help identify if you may have an underlying vision problem that is causing diplopia (double vision)

Dealing with Dry Eye: Understanding its Connection to Bell's Palsy

One of the most common symptoms that an optometrist will treat for Bell’s Palsy is dry eye. Bell's Palsy can cause difficulty in closing the eye due to the weakness or paralysis in the eyelid muscles. This can lead to dry eye syndrome, as the eye struggles to produce enough tears to keep the surface moist. Dry eye can be uncomfortable and increase the risk of eye infections, making it important to seek eye treatments. To avoid damage to the eye, it's important to keep the cornea, the clear protective covering of the pupil, moist. Artificial tears in the form of eye drops can be used throughout the day, and a moisturizing eye ointment at night. Although the ointment may cause blurred vision during the day, it will keep the eye moisturized. To protect the eye during the day, moisture chamber goggles can be worn. At night, a patch can be used or taping the eyelids, however please speak with our optometrist before taping as you must make sure to avoid the tape scratching the cornea.

If eye drops and moisture chamber goggles are not effective then scleral lenses are extremely effective. Learn more about scleral lenses for dry eye.

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Managing Light Sensitivity in Bell's Palsy with Sunglasses and Filters

Some individuals with Bell's Palsy may experience increased light sensitivity because of the drooping eyelid and difficulty closing the eye. This can be due to the increased exposure of the eye to light and the difficulty in shielding the eye from bright light. Light sensitivity can make it difficult to perform daily activities and can be treated with sunglasses or specialized lens filters. 

Corneal Damage and Vision Loss from Bell's Palsy

In severe cases, Bell's Palsy can cause vision loss if the eye is left exposed and does not close properly. This can lead to damage to the cornea through sores or infections, and scarring of the cornea can result in decreased visual acuity and changes in peripheral vision. To address this issue, treatments such as amniotic membranes and scleral lenses may be recommended to repair the cornea and preserve vision.

If you are experiencing changes in your vision related to Bell's Palsy, it is important to seek the help of an optometrist. They can provide a comprehensive eye examination and determine the best course of treatment to manage your symptoms and preserve your vision.

How Can an Optometrist Help Improve the Visual Function of Patients with Bell’s Palsy?

How Can an Optometrist Help Improve the Visual Function of Patients with Bell’s Palsy?

Importance of Early Diagnosis

When a patient is diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, quick action is crucial. We can conduct specialized tests to assess any visual symptoms and formulate a treatment plan accordingly. Early diagnosis can mitigate potential complications and promote quicker recovery.

Visual Acuity Assessment

Our eye doctor will often start by assessing the patient's visual acuity. In some cases, Bell's Palsy can affect the muscles that control blinking or tear production, which may impact vision. A thorough eye exam can rule out other vision issues and help focus treatment on symptoms related to Bell's Palsy.

Lubrication Treatment

Patients with Bell's Palsy often experience dry eyes due to difficulty in blinking. We can recommend specific types of eye drops or artificial tears that can help maintain moisture and alleviate discomfort.

Review of Eye Coordination and Movement

Eye coordination and movement can be compromised when facial muscles are affected. Our optometrist may conduct tests to ensure both eyes are working together properly and may recommend exercises or therapies to improve coordination.

Prescription Changes

In some instances, the impact of Bell's Palsy on vision might necessitate changes to a patient's eyeglass or contact lens prescription. Regular follow-ups will ensure that the prescription remains effective as the condition evolves.

Referral to Other Specialists

If the eye issues associated with Bell's Palsy are severe, an optometrist may refer the patient to other medical professionals like neurologists or ophthalmologists for specialized treatments like surgical intervention or botox injections to improve muscle function.

Long-Term Monitoring and Support

Even after the initial symptoms of Bell's Palsy have been managed, regular visits to the optometrist are essential for monitoring long-term effects and adjusting treatment as needed.

Don't Mistake It for Bell's Palsy: The Other Medical Conditions to Consider Behind Facial Weakness and Paralysis

Don't Mistake It for Bell's Palsy: The Other Medical Conditions to Consider Behind Facial Weakness and Paralysis

Bell's palsy is a specific condition that affects the facial nerve and results in temporary weakness or paralysis on one side of the face. However, there are several medical conditions that may present similar symptoms. Some of these causes include:

  • Strokes with hemiplegia
  • Infections such as otitis media and Lyme disease
  • Physical trauma, including cranial fractures and facial lacerations
  • Tumors, such as acoustic neuroma and perineural invasion by squamous cell carcinoma
  • Autoimmune diseases like Sjögren's syndrome and metabolic disorders like diabetes
  • Other conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, Ramsay Hunt syndrome, Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome, sarcoidosis, and cholesteatoma
  • Lagophthalmos and its causes:
  • In some cases, the paralysis or weakness of facial muscles can lead to eyelid problems such as lagophthalmos. This can be caused by:
  • Orbital factors like thyroid eye disease (assessed by exophthalmometry)
  • Mechanical factors like cicatricial scarring on the eyelids

If you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms similar to Bell's palsy, it is important to seek an evaluation and diagnosis from an optometrist.

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