Although the drug form of botulinum toxin – most commonly referred to as Botox – is best known as a wrinkle treatment, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of Botox to treat certain eye conditions, including blurred vision, crossed eyes, and eyelid spasms. If you’ve been suffering from the above eye conditions and you’ve tried more traditional treatments to no avail, your eye doctor might recommend Botox as an alternative form of treatment.
Scientific research on the use of Botox as an eye treatment first started in the early 1980s, when an eye doctor promoted Botox as a way to treat an eye problem called strabismus. More common in children than adults, strabismus causes the eyes to look in different directions, creating a cross-eyed appearance. Aesthetics aside, strabismus can cause vision loss, double vision, and trouble with depth perception.
How does it Work?
When an extremely small amount of Botox is injected into an eye muscle, the drug causes temporary weakness in the muscle for a few weeks. Typically, this alone can correct strabismus and result in a more balanced eye once the paralysis wears off. Overall, the effect is not as permanent or reliable as surgery can be for the same problem, but it’s a simpler and more cost-effective alternative. And, if it doesn’t work, corrective surgery is still an option.
In order to get the best result, Botox injections should be repeated. During the procedure, several drops of a local anesthetic are given, which makes the procedure nearly painless. From there, a needle attached to an electric amplifier is inserted around the eye, and positioned in a way that a tiny bit of Botox is injected into the affected muscle. In most cases, it’s an out-patient procedure that takes about five minutes.
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Botox as a Medical Treatment
Unfortunately, Botox doesn’t cure any of the above conditions, nor does it serve as permanent treatment. The effects are intended to last only a few months, and then you’ll need to return to your eye doctor for another shot. Before using Botox, your doctor should check for any underlying eye conditions which could be causing your symptoms. In most cases, treating these underlying conditions is the best route of action.
Before trying Botox, be sure to speak with your doctor about any risks or complications. He or she will need to know about past eye or facial surgeries you’ve had, which could put you at a greater risk for adverse side effects. Provide them with the names and dosages of any medications you’re taking, as the dose may need to be adjusted before and after your Botox treatments. If you have shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, vision problems, fainting, seizures, rash or gives, chest pain, or an irregular heartbeat after Botox, call your doctor immediately.