To review the current management paradigm of the eye in patients with facial paralysis.
A PubMed and Cochrane search was done with no date restrictions for English-language literature on facial synkinesis. The search terms used were “ocular,” “facial,” “synkinesis,” “palsy,” “neurotization,” and various combinations of the terms. A total of 65 articles were included.
Facial paralysis may result in devastating ocular sequelae. Therefore, assessment of the eye in facial paralysis is a critical component of patient management. Although the management should be individualized to the patient, the primary objective should include an ophthalmologic evaluation to implement measures to protect the ocular surface and preserve visual acuity. The degree of facial paralysis, lacrimal secretion, corneal sensation, and position of the eyelids should be assessed thoroughly. Patients with the anticipated recovery of facial nerve function may respond to more conservative temporizing measures to protect the ocular surface. Conversely, patients with expected prolonged paralysis should be appropriately identified as they will benefit from surgical reconstruction and rehabilitation of the periorbital complex. The majority of reconstructive measures within a facial surgeon’s armamentarium augment coverage of the eye but are unable to restore blink. Eyelid reanimation restores the esthetic proportionality of the eye with blinking and reestablishes protective functions necessary for ocular preservation and function.
Ocular preservation is the primary priority in the initial management of the patient with facial paralysis. An accurate assessment is a critical component in identifying the type of paralysis and developing an individualized treatment plan.