Aim: to review our experience with facial nerve palsy and to highlight the need for an ophthalmologist in its management.
Methods: This was a hospital-based retrospective study carried out in the Ophthalmology Department of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. The case files of patients with facial nerve palsy, seen from August 2015 to October 2019, were retrieved. Sociodemographic data and clinical information were obtained from their case files.
Results: A total of 14 patients were included in this study. There were 9 males with a male: female ratio of 1.8: 1. The mean age was 41.1years (SD 20.6); age range 3years to 68years. Eight (57.1%) cases were referred from other medical specialist. The most frequent ocular complaints were inability to close the eyes in 6 (42.8%) patients, blurry vision 5(35.7%) and tearing 4 (28.6%). All (100.0%) of the patients had lagophthalmos on clinical examination. Signs of corneal structural changes were seen in 5 (35.7%) patients. Trauma 4 (28.57%), stroke 2 (14.3%) and Bells palsy 2 (14.3%) were the most frequent of the known etiologies.
Conclusion: There is a low referral rate of cases of facial nerve palsy from medical specialist to the ophthalmologist in our study, and patients are mostly referred when they have ocular symptoms. There is a need for the ophthalmologist, in a multidisciplinary team approach, to prevent visual impairment and improve the patient’s quality of life. Physicians should be sensitized on the need to refer patients with facial nerve palsy for ophthalmic evaluation and management.