Eye examinations are part of our adult health and should be conducted once every 12 months. For many adults, the eye examination brings about a time when health complications come to light as the eyes often give clues into other health concerns. For Bell’s palsy patients, eye health is not surprisingly complicated at the eye exam and it is often the eye exam that can determine the extent to which long term neurological damage has been done by the Bell’s palsy condition and many patients insist on using contact lenses while living with Bell’s palsy.
Bell’s palsy is a complex neurological condition that results in a complete paralysis of one side of the face. Typically, it is believed that Bell’s palsy is attributed to a viral infection that affects the nerves and then is exacerbated by stress and other health conditions. When not managed effectively, Bell’s palsy can lead to complications involving the vision and other senses, including the ability to hear, taste and even smell. If you have been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, you will want to meet with an eye doctor to determine what long term damage to your eyes may have occurred.
At your eye exam, while living with Bell’s palsy, you can expect that your eye doctor will want to tape shut one eye to determine what visual changes have occurred in the affected eye. Also, because Bell’s palsy can lead to complications involving dryness of the eye, your contact lens exam not be performed if your doctor can not ascertain the level and degree of dryness or the extent to which your vision has changed.
Sizing the eyeball for contact lenses can also be challenging for a Bell’s palsy patient as Bell’s palsy may lead to swelling and distortion of the facial muscles on the affected side of the head. For this reason, do not be surprised if your eye doctor indicated they simply cannot take the measurements needed. In many cases, after your Bell’s palsy symptoms have resolved, your doctor will suggest that you return for a more accurate measurement of your eyes so that your contact lens fitting can be more accurately completed.
Long term effects of Bell’s palsy usually result in the exacerbation of symptoms and a repeat paralysis of the face many years after the initial attack occurs. For this reason, as a contact lens wearer, you should always have a pair of prescription eyeglasses to use as back up when your contact lenses cannot be worn. By being prepared, you can ensure that your vision is more accurately protected.Sources: Journal of Neurological Medicine, 2008: 56-59.