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Why Botox Helps Ease Eye Problems

Scientific research led doctors to the discover that botulinum toxin could be medically useful because of its effects on paralyzing — or relaxing — abnormally tight muscles.

Each of your eyes has six muscles, and two of the muscles move the eye from side to side. These muscles keep the gaze straight by working against each other, with equal strength, each pulling the eye in opposite directions. If one of those muscles grows weak, the stronger muscle will pull the eye the opposite way. As a result, your eyes can end up looking in different directions. Strokes and nerve damage can also cause this problem. Because the stronger muscle in the eye is always contracting, it can become permanently tight. So when eye doctors treat strabismus with Botox, they inject the drug into the stronger muscle to relax it. This gives the weaker one a chance to recover.

In some people who have eye problems such as eyelid spasms (blepharospasms), the issue can be so severe that they can’t open their eye and, as a result, can’t perform common daily activities such as driving. For people with this problem, it can be life-altering to have this treatment.

Botox as a Medical Treatment: Some Caveats

Though Botox can be helpful, it’s important to know that it will not cure these conditions, nor does it serve as a permanent treatment. The effects will last a few months, and then you’ll need another treatment. Before using Botox, your doctor should check for underlying eye problems that could be causing your symptoms. Dry eyes, for instance, can sometimes cause eyelid spasms.

Before receiving any Botox injections, also be sure to tell your doctor if you’ve ever had eye or facial surgery that could put you at risk for side effects. Tell your doctor about any medications you are taking, because the dose may need to be adjusted when you are given Botox. Health experts also urge you to call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms during the first few weeks after an injection: shortness of breath or trouble swallowing, vision problems, trouble holding up your head or moving your face, fainting, seizures, rash or hives, or chest pain or an irregular heartbeat.

Botox Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives, difficulty breathing, feeling like you might pass out, swelling of your face; lips, tongue, or throat. Learn more about side effects.

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