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
The botulinum toxin contained in Botox can spread to other body areas beyond where it was injected. This has caused serious life-threatening side effects in some people receiving botulism toxin injections, even for cosmetic purposes.
Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects, some of which can occur up to several weeks after an injection:
- trouble breathing, talking, or swallowing;
- hoarse voice, drooping eyelids;
- unusual or severe muscle weakness (especially in a body area that was not injected with the medication);
- loss of bladder control;
- problems with vision;
- crusting or drainage from your eyes;
- severe skin rash or itching;
- fast, slow, or uneven heartbeats; or
- chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, general ill feeling.
Less serious side effects may include:
- muscle weakness near where the medicine was injected;
- bruising, bleeding, pain, redness, or swelling where the injection was given;
- headache, muscle stiffness, neck or back pain;
- fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, flu symptoms,
- dizziness, drowsiness, tired feeling;
- nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, loss of appetite;
- dry mouth, dry eyes, ringing in your ears;
- increased sweating in areas other than the underarms;
- itchy or watery eyes, increased sensitivity to light; or eyelid swelling or bruising.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.