Horner’s syndrome is a name given to a condition after a renowned Swiss ophthalmologist, Johann Friedreich Horner. He described in man the famous triad of symptoms viz; miosis (constriction of pupil), ptosis (drooping of eyelids), and enopthalmos (sunken eyes) and anhidrosis (less sweat). It is a rare ailment involving an interruption in sympathetic nervous system.
In this condition the nerves of eye and face are affected. Only one side of face is affected. Symptoms can result from an underlying disease, medical treatment or it can be since birth. Horner’s syndrome is benign and treatment depends mainly on curing the underlying disease.There is no cure if the cause is congenital.
What Are The Causes Of Horner’s Syndrome?
Horner’s syndrome can occur in all age groups without any discrimination of gender and race. The cause is usually due to an interruption in the nerves which originate in the hypothalamus of brain and travel down to the eyes and face.
The hindrance in the nerve pathway occurs somewhere between the hypothalamus in brain and the eye. The condition can be congenital, due to a disease or a medical treatment. Following are the causes of Horner’s syndrome.
- Injury to the carotid artery which is the main artery supplying blood to the brain.
- Traumatic injury to the nerve complex at the base of neck, called brachial plexus.
- Lung cancer and metastatic lesions of lungs in the brain.
- Fracture of skull
- Brain tumors
- Multiple sclerosis
- Pontine glioma
- Brain stem encephalitis
- Infection in middle ear
- Aneurism of thoracic aorta
Sign And Symptoms Of Horner’s Syndrome
In Horner’s syndrome, usually only one side of face is affected. Any person can suffer from this condition. In rare cases it is present since birth. The most common symptoms of Horner’s syndrome are as follows:
- Drooping of eyelid.
- The size of pupil in affected eye remains constantly small as compared to the other eye. The difference can be easily noted by observing the eye.
- Dilatation of pupil in the affected eye is small even in dim light or in darkness.
- Absence of sweating on one side of face. It is mainly due to lesion in the carotid artery.
- Difference in iris color. It occurs more in children who have this defect since birth.
- Eyeballs sink in the socket.
- Redness of eyes.
- Pain in eyes.
Treatment For Horner’s Syndrome
The treatment of Horner’s syndrome depends on treating the underlying disease. If the disease is due to a carotid artery occlusion, steps should be taken to clear the block. When the cause is due to underlying tumor, surgical excision of the tumor may be required. In addition if the tumor is malignant, chemotherapy and radiation may be necessary.
Alternative medicine such as homeopathy may be useful in certain circumstances. Gelsemium, belladonna, etc are useful in relieve the condition. There are certain medicines in modern therapy which may useful in alleviating the symptoms. Unfortunately, if the cause is congenital the condition is incurable.