Thursday, October 9, 2014

Something to bat an eye at: New treatment brings hope to patients that can't close their eyes

The FDA recently announced it was loosening restrictions on the use of devices that help treat a particular type of eye dryness. This type of eye dryness results from an inability to fully close the eye, a medical condition known as lagophthalmos. This condition most frequently results from facial paralysis, which may occur following an injury to the facial nerve.
The facial nerve, or seventh cranial nerve, has many important functions, including taste sensation, production of tears, and movement of the facial muscles responsible for facial expression, including smiling. It also has the responsibility of closing the eye.
The most commonly used technique to treat this condition is through the placement of a platinum or gold weight under the skin of the upper eyelid By adding this extra weight, gravity helps pull the lid down and close it. The simple procedure can be performed in the office under local anesthesia and only takes only about 15 minutes.
While this procedure is fairly simple, a non-surgical solution would be even more beneficial to certain patients, particularly those in which facial weakness and the inability to close the eye is only temporary.
That is why physicians welcome the news that the FDA recently decided to loosen up regulations on other devices to help close the eye (http://thehill.com/blogs/regwatch/healthcare/203888-fda-helps-people-close-their-eyes). This will allow scientists and researchers the opportunity to further investigate improved treatments for this difficult condition.
The University of Utah Center for Facial Nerve Disorders is actively involved in facial nerve research and was awarded a research grant from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery to further investigate this exciting new technology.

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