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Scleral Contact Lenses as an Alternative to Tarsorrhaphy for the Long-Term Management of Combined Exposure and Neurotrophic Keratopathy

Weyns, Marlies MD; Koppen, Carina MD, PhD; Tassignon, Marie-José MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e31825fed01
Case Report

Purpose: Most ophthalmologists are unaware of the therapeutic applications of gas-permeable scleral contact lenses for the prevention and treatment of ocular complications in patients with facial nerve palsy and concomitant neuroparalysis.

Methods: The case reports refer to 3 patients who developed unilateral lagophthalmos and corneal anesthesia after an acoustic neuroma or intracranial tumor resection. Two patients explicitly requested a tarsorrhaphy to be opened because they were incapacitated by the limited visual acuity and visual field. Tarsorrhaphy was not an acceptable aesthetic solution for the third patient. Fluid-ventilated scleral lenses were fitted because they protect the cornea by creating a precorneal fluid reservoir while optimizing visual acuity.

Results: The follow-up periods were 3, 17, and 18 years. Two patients wear the contact lenses full time, but the wearing time is limited to 10 hours per day for the third patient. All patients were instructed not to wear their lenses while sleeping. Two eyes required a corneal transplant, but lens wear could be resumed 4 to 6 weeks after transplantation. The learning curve for the insertion and removal of this large-diameter lens is the main obstacle for a patient, especially when there is loss of corneal sensation.

Conclusion: Scleral lens wear is a valid long-term alternative to standard treatment options such as tarsorrhaphy for patients with corneal exposure and corneal anesthesia as a consequence of postsurgery facial nerve paralysis. Scleral contact lenses provide these patients with effective protection of the ocular surface in an aesthetically acceptable way while optimizing visual function.

*Department of Ophthalmology, Antwerp University Hospital, Edegem, Belgium

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium.

Reprints: Marlies Weyns, Department of Ophthalmology, Antwerp University Hospital, Wilrijkstraat 10, B-2650 Edegem, Belgium (e-mail:

The authors state that they have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Received March 29, 2012

Accepted May 16, 2012

Copyright © 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.