Why is this important?

An inability to blink, produce tears and close the eye means that the surface of the eye (the cornea) has very little protection. It can become dry and easily damaged which can seriously affect your vision.

Sometimes sensation to the surface of the eye may be lost. This means that, without any sense of discomfort, dust or grit could enter the eye causing injury.

Is this serious?

Drying or damage to the eye can affect your vision and the eye may become red, sore and sensitive to light.

An ulcer can form on the surface of the eye which may cause permanent damage if not treated.

This is a serious condition and if not treated promptly will cause permanent scarring and loss of vision.

If any of these problems do occur you must seek urgent  medical advice.

How can these problems be prevented?

It is very important to follow the eye care advice that you have been given.

This will probably include protective drops, ointment and taping the eye shut at night.

Occasionally minor surgery may be required.

Taping the eye shut

If your eyelid does not close fully when asleep you may be advised that your eye should be taped shut at night. You will be advised on how to do this, if it is required.

  1. Cut a piece of tape slightly longer than the width of the eye.
  2. Ensure the skin is clean and dry.
  3. If using night time ointments or gels these should now be inserted into the eye.
  4. Look down
  5. Assist eye closure with the back of your finger.
  6. Apply tape from inner corner to outer corner of the eye in a horizontal direction so that it extends beyond the width of the eyebrow. Ensure that the eyelid is fully closed, the tape is on upper the lid and covers the area underneath the eye.

Please note: If not done correctly the eyelid can easily pop open exposing the eye to worse damage.

Artificial tears, gels and ointments

You will find extra moisture for the eye will be required both during the day and at night time. You will have been prescribed what drops to use and how often they should be used.

Gels and ointments are thicker than artificial tears and therefore protect the eye for longer period of time. Because they are thicker they make vision ‘blurry’ which is why they are usually used at bedtime.

Technique for inserting drops and ointments into the eye

Manual blink and stretching the eyelid 

If you are unable to blink your eye, the upper eye lid can become tight. As your nerve recovers this can make it difficult for the muscles to close they eye fully.

A manual blink helps to spread tears over the surface of the eye and therefore helps to keep it moist. It also maintains them mobility of the eye lid, so that it doesn’t stiffen.

An average adult blinks ten times per minute, therefore if you are unable to actively blink at all you should aim to carry out a manual blink as often as possible with a minimum of one manual blink every ten minutes and when your eye feels dry.

Manual blink technique

  1. Look straight ahead.
  2. Look down, this will relax and lower the upper lid
  3. Using the back of your finger bring the upper lid down into its fully closed position.

Eyelid stretch technique

  1. Assist eye closure with the back of your finger.
  2. Using the other hand, gently stroke the skin under the eyebrow upwards.

Repeat this action at four points along the eyebrow, repeat this four times

General advice

  • Watch out for situations where you will automatically blink less often such as reading, watching TV and looking at a computer screen. Try to blink more often when doing these activities, take frequent rests and use your manual blink.
  • Avoid places where there are fumes, smoke or dust which can irritate your eyes.
  • Protect your eyes from the wind by wearing wrap around glasses or sunglasses.
  • Cover and protect the eye when washing hair and taking a shower.
  • If you are sensitive to light wear sunglasses.
  • Avoid sitting next to or in front of fans, open car windows and blow heaters.
  • Avoid air conditioning that will dry out your eye.

Remember these are guidelines – you must adhere to the eye care procedure that has been recommended to you by your  doctor. If your eye becomes sore or red you must seek medical advice immediately.

Ref: 09/21/34
Review: 06/23