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Most of us think of Botox® as a treatment reserved for treating wrinkles and fine lines in the face, but did you know that it may also be useful in treating a variety of eye-related conditions? Botox® may offer significant relief to patients who suffer from strabismus or severe eyelid spasms.

CONDITIONS TREATED BY BOTOX®

Since the early 1980s, Botox® has been used to treat strabismus — a condition that causes the eyes to appear crossed or as if they are looking in different directions. Left untreated, strabismus can lead to vision loss, changes in depth perception, or diplopia (double vision). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved Botox® for the treatment of blepharospasm, or eyelid spasms. Some of these conditions, particularly severe eyelid spasms, can become so severe that they interfere with a person’s ability to do daily tasks or drive. These conditions can be life altering.

HOW DOES BOTOX® WORK ON THE EYES?

Botox® works by affecting tight muscles around the eyes and the eyelids by preventing the nerves around these eyes from signaling the muscles to work in certain ways. There are six muscles around each eye, which normally work against each other to create a strength balance. However, in some people, this balance is uneven, and some of the muscles overpower the others — leading to a variety of eye-related problems. In essence, these muscles become temporarily paralyzed or relaxed, depending on where Botox® is injected. If left untreated, an imbalance in the muscles around the eyes may become permanent. Imbalances in the strength of muscles around the eyes is corrected with Botox® by injecting Botox® into the stronger muscle, forcing it to relax. When the stronger muscle relaxes, the weaker muscle is able to recover and regain its strength.

Botox® doesn’t cure the underlying eye conditions, but may offer significant improvement in the symptoms. Botox® treatment for eye muscle problems may be life altering for people with severe symptoms, but treatment is not permanent. Over time, typically several months, the nerves and muscles will return to the original state. However, Botox® treatment may be administered again in order to prolong its benefits.

BEFORE UNDERGOING BOTOX® TREATMENT FOR EYE-RELATED PROBLEMS

It is important to have your eyes examined by a Silverstein Eye Centers specialist before undergoing Botox® treatment for eye-related conditions. Your doctor will examine your eyes for other conditions that may cause your symptoms, including dry eyes, which can cause eyelid spasms. Inform your doctor if you have had a stroke or suffered from any type of nerve damage that might have triggered your symptoms. During your exam, be sure to also inform your eye doctor about any medications, vitamins, or supplements you are taking and if you have had any previous eye or facial surgeries. These factors may affect your suitability for Botox® treatment, or may impact your doctor’s treatment plan for your condition.

SIDE EFFECTS AND RISKS OF BOTOX® TREATMENT FOR EYE PROBLEMS

Although the FDA has approved Botox® as a treatment option for several eye-related conditions and is considered safe and effective, there are still side effects and risks associated with the procedure. After Botox® treatment, some people will experience a small amount of bruising, redness, or soreness at their injection sites. These are normal and typically go away within several days after treatment. However, should you experience shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, changes in vision, difficulty moving your neck, head, or face, fainting, seizures, rash or hives, you call your doctor immediately.

Botox® is not only an effective treatment option for fine lines and wrinkles around the face, but may also be a good option for your eye-related problems. If you suffer from strabismus, loss of peripheral vision, or if you have severe eyelid spasms that impair your ability to see and carry out normal daily tasks, call Silverstein Eye Centers today at (816) 358-3600 to schedule an appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon.

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