Lagophthalmos refers to the inability of an individual to completely close the eyelids and can result in drying of the eyes and irritation, and even permanent damage.
- most common in facial nerve palsies (e.g. Bell palsy)
- trauma/surgery: scarring of the eyelids 1 (cicatricial lagophthalmos)
- sleep (nocturnal lagophthalmos)
- exophthalmos 3
Treatment and prognosis
Initial therapy includes artificial teardrops and topical eye ointments to prevent corneal irritation and scarring (keratitis).
Surgical treatment can be static i.e. the insertion of small weights into the upper eyelids to assist in adequate eye closure, or dynamic, whereby surgical techniques can improve muscle function of the eyelid.
History and etymology
Lagophthalmos is from the Ancient Greek words λαγος meaning 'hare' and οφταλμος meaning 'eye'. This stems from a mistaken belief in Classical times that the hare slept with its eyes open! 2
- 1. Pereira MV, Glória AL. Lagophthalmos. Seminars in ophthalmology. 25 (3): 72-8. doi:10.3109/08820538.2010.488578 - Pubmed
- 2. Van de Graaf RC, IJpma FF, Nicolai JP. Lagophthalmos or hare eye: an etymologic eye opener. (2008) Aesthetic plastic surgery. 32 (3): 573-4. doi:10.1007/s00266-008-9133-y - Pubmed
- 3. Nambi GI, Beck B, Gupta AK. An unusual cause of lagophthalmos. (2010) Oman journal of ophthalmology. 3 (1): 32-3. doi:10.4103/0974-620X.60020 - Pubmed