Facial plast Surg 2008; 24(2): 220-230
DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1075838
© Thieme Medical Publishers

The Evaluation and Treatment of Upper Eyelid Paralysis

Chris M. Bergeron1 , Kris S. Moe1
  • 1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Washington School of Medicine, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, Washington
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
09 May 2008 (online)


Patients with upper lid paralysis suffer from a loss of the blink reflex/response in the affected eye, leaving the eye vulnerable to a host of predatory insults. Partial or total impairment of the orbicularis oculi muscle, lagophthalmos, disruption of the lacrimal apparatus, upper lid retraction, and the unopposed pull of gravity on the surrounding paralyzed tissues all contribute to increased corneal exposure and an increased risk of exposure keratitis. Management of the upper lid in these patients must therefore focus on restoration of the effects of the blink reflex/response and prevention of corneal exposure. Relevant anatomy and pathophysiology are discussed. The initial treatment is supportive, with surgery reserved for those patients that fall into two categories: those who have failed nonsurgical treatment to protect the cornea and those who have been treated effectively with conservative measures but are faced with the prospect of long-term or permanent paralysis. A variety of surgical procedures that may be classified as either static or dynamic are discussed. Standard static procedures include lid loading and tarsorrhaphy, whereas the palpebral spring implant and the temporalis muscle transfer are classified as dynamic. The goal of the corrective procedures is to allow complete eye closure, thereby providing corneal protection, with minimal (1 mm or less) ptosis in the open position.