Tag Archives: facial paralysis

Acoustic Neuroma Lessons – Eye Health #2

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Initial Treatment

In the hospital immediately following surgery, nurses taped a plastic bubble over my eye, providing a greenhouse effect.  Moisture built up in the bubble and kept my eye from drying out.  They also put lubricant in my eye that was a messy gel that liquefied and coated my eye.

The surgeon suggested putting a gold weight in, which I learned was actually titanium.  Having it sewn into my eyelid was good news because I had learned that a small weight would help the lid close more effectively.  The bad news is that you don’t get a gold weight if your face movement will return quickly.  It was a reminder of the long road ahead.

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Different samples were taped to my eyelid to get the correct weight – just enough to close my eye but not too heavy or I wouldn’t be able to open it. After going back and forth, a decision was made. The appropriate weight was heavier than ideal but necessary due to the extent of my paralysis. The weight had links in it like a watch so it would curve with my eyelid. (the picture shows the size, a little over a half-inch.)

Having the platinum weight sewn into my eyelid was a short procedure done while awake with local anesthetic.  Well, short according to the doctors.  It felt like the longest 40 minutes of my life.  It was very strange to have someone cut into my eyelid and insert a foreign object.  Then they stitched me up and sent me back to my room. My procedure was done while I was still in the hospital, but frequently they are added several weeks or months later.

I continued to use the bubble only at night and then with time I was able to only use nighttime gel.  Some doctors recommend scotch taping the eye shut or the use of an eye patch.  My doctor didn’t want me to do those things as he felt that I could scratch my cornea.  As with anything in medicine there are different opinions on treatment and its whatever a doctor and patient agree to. Mine preferred bubbles.

I’m not very knowledgeable about other options but I’ll list them for info.  Googling any of them will provide more detail.

– A procedure called a Tarsorrhaphy partially sews the eyelids partially closed until movement returns.

– Eyelid Palpebral Spring surgery is another option, which assists with blinking.

– Lateral Canthoplasty is a procedure done by shortening the lower eyelid to keep the lower eyelid from falling from the eye.

Anyway, back to my journey. I now had a black eye to add to my existing appearance issues – a row of 29 staples behind my ear from brain surgery and a motionless right face. I’ll never forget the self-consciousness as I was wheeled out of the hospital and crawled into my waiting car. I couldn’t believe what I was living but the pain reminded me that I was indeed alive.

In Part Three I’ll talk about recovery and how things have changed — or not — over time.

Note: Pictured above is a NitEye Dry Eye Comforter Eye Bandage. They aren’t on google but can be found here: NitEye

Acoustic Neuroma Lessons – Eye Health

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Part One – There’s a lot to say here, so I’ll continue in the next post.

When I was diagnosed with an Acoustic Neuroma, one of the things that I read about was the effect on eye health.  That just didn’t make sense to me. I read about dry eye, gold weights, and patches. It all sounded rather horrifying and I quickly discounted it as anything that I would have to deal with.

After surgery, life taught me otherwise. I learned a lot about eye health — I no longer had the luxury of ignoring it. When I woke from brain surgery, the nurse put drops in my right eye every few minutes. In my confusion, I didn’t understand why she didn’t put them in both eyes. It even occurred to me that I didn’t understand why she was doing it at all. However, I noticed that after keeping my eye open for a couple minutes it would get dry. Then it started to sink in — my face was half paralyzed. There were many issues to deal with, but for now I’ll just talk about my eye.

My facial nerve was stretched across the tumor like a ribbon.  After surgeons spent hours irritating my facial nerve by separating it from the tumor, it stopped working. They were confident that at least some movement would return to my face, but they didn’t know when or how much. It would be at least 6-7 months based on a nerve regeneration rate of an inch a month.

Since facial muscles also involve the muscle that close the eye, blinking became something that I had to think about. The muscles responsible for opening my eye were not affected, so opening my eye was not a problem – just closing it. My normal, left eye was finished with a “normal” blink while my effected eye had only made it halfway. I had to learn to think about making a complete blink. I had to close, relax, and feel my eye close fully. On top of that, the eye had lost its ability to tear, effecting the eye as well as sinus on my right side.

To be continued. . .