Ophthalmoplegia: What is it? What are its Types?

Ophthalmoplegia is the weakness or paralysis of the muscles of a person’s eyes. This condition can affect a single or all the six muscles of the eyes. Typically, these muscles help in controlling the movement of the eyes and hold them in place.

Ophthalmoplegia (กล้ามเนื้อตาอ่อนแรง, which is the term in Thai) is of two types – internuclear Ophthalmoplegia and chronic external Ophthalmoplegia.

Chronic External Ophthalmoplegia

Chronic external Ophthalmoplegia is typically found in adults. Adults having age between 18-40 years are at risk of chronic external Ophthalmoplegia. The initial symptoms of this disease are difficulty in controlling the eye muscles and drooping eyelids.

Internuclear Ophthalmoplegia

The leading cause of internuclear Ophthalmoplegia is the damage to the nerve fibers of the eyes. This damage is caused by internal nerve damage. Often, this condition causes double vision.

What Are The Main Symptoms Of Ophthalmoplegia?

People who are poorly affected by Ophthalmoplegiamay show symptoms of double vision or blurred vision. Some patients may also appear to the inability to position their eyes at a focal point.

In severe cases, some patients may experience difficulty in moving their eyes in both directions. In addition to that, patients also suffer drooping of their eyelids.

If a patient’s Ophthalmoplegia is associated with other disorders, then the symptoms may also include muscle weakness and difficulty swallowing.

What Is The Leading Cause Of Ophthalmoplegia?

The condition of Ophthalmoplegia can be congenital or may develop at a later stage in life. Typically, this condition is caused when the messages exchanged between the brain and eyes are disrupted.

The causes behind internuclear Ophthalmoplegia are trauma, infarction, or multiple sclerosis.

The causes behind external Ophthalmoplegia are Kearns-Sayre syndrome, Graves’ disease, or other muscle disorders.

Other Common Causes Of Ophthalmoplegia Are:

  • Stroke
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Migraines
  • Brain Tumor
  • Brain Injury
  • Infection

What Are The Risk Factors Of Ophthalmoplegia?

People having diabetes are slightly more at risk towards Ophthalmoplegia. Men who are above 45 years of age and have type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing Ophthalmoplegia.

People who already have muscle disorders are at higher risk of Ophthalmoplegia. Graves’ disease and multiple sclerosis often bring Ophthalmoplegia with them.

Usually, there are no lifestyle factors that contribute to the development of Ophthalmoplegia. However, it is recommended to keep your vascular system healthy. Also, a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle can help lower the risk of vision problems and stroke.