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Bell’s Palsy

    Bell's palsy is a sudden paralysis of the facial muscles on one side of the face.  This causes a characteristic drooping of cheek, mouth and eyelids.  The eyelid paralysis causes an incomplete blink.  The resultant drying and exposure are potentially very dangerous for the eye because without normal tear functionality the surface cells begin to dry out and die leading to potential infection, ulceration, and scarring.
    The exact cause of Bell's palsy is unknown but thought to be associated with a strain of the Herpes virus.  It is usually self limiting resolving without treatment over a period of weeks or months.  Oral medications, including steroids and antivirals, can generally lessen the severity of the disease.  Until the paralysis resolves, it is very important to keep the eye surface moist with lubricating drops, gels and ointments.  In severe cases, taping the eyelids closed may be required for a period of time, especially at night.
    Lubricating eye drops and gels improve the lubrication of the eye as the eyelid blinks over the front surface of the eye.  A gel has a higher viscosity than a drop and comforts the eye for a longer period of time.  The consistency of lubrication drops, and especially gels, may blur vision temporarily.  Since your diagnosis requires the use of these lubricating products to comfort your eyes they may be used at regular intervals during the day, evening, and are especially helpful before bedtime.  It is important to note that it is generally not recommend using solutions that also include properties that claim to remove ocular redness.
    Lubricating ointments may be used when it is necessary for lubrication to stay in contact with your eye longer.  This facilitates maximum comfort and eye protection.  It is important to note that the consistency of lubricating ointments blur vision and should not be used while driving until vision fully clears.  If a lubricating ointment is used during the day frequent blinking for approximately 30 seconds after installation will clear your vision faster.  Lubricating ointments are particularly useful at bedtime protecting your eyes during your sleeping hours.  When used daily before sleep, your eyes will feel refreshed and more comfortable in the morning.

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