Patient Portal COVID-19 Protocols

Why Can’t I Fully Close My Eye?

While online research is a great place to start when we have unanswered questions, Arizona Eye Specialists wants to remind you that for the most accurate diagnosis it is important to be seen by a medical professional. For any changes to vision, eye concerns, malfunctions of the eye and overall eye health, please schedule an appointment by calling 602-254-7255 or visiting WEBSITE

Often medical questions have multiple answers. For example, the question “why can’t I fully close my eye?” can have a variety of potential causes and solutions. Lagophthalmos is the medical term for inability to close one or both eyes completely. There are 3 different forms of lagophthalmos: nocturnal, paralytic and mechanical. Nocturnal lagophthalmos refers to sleeping with the eyes open which about 20% of people do involuntarily. The eyes close normally when awake but they do not close when asleep. Nocturnal or nighttime lagophthalmos is associated with infection of the cornea, poor sleep and chronic exposure related symptoms. Paralytic lagophthalmos refers to eyes not closing properly due to a loss of function or paralysis in the facial nerves. Causes can include Bell’s palsy, tumors, trauma, injury or vascular accidents. Mechanical lagophthalmos refers to a structural defect rather than a nerve problem. It usually occurs when the nerves in the muscle function correctly, but an external factor prevents the eyes from closing. These causes can include conjunctiva, eyelid retraction, exophthalmos or eyelid laxity. 

While some cases resolve on their own, proper diagnosis and treatment is important because symptoms will be bothersome. These include dry eyes, watery eyes, burning, redness, blurred vision, feeling like something is stuck in the eye, sensitivity to light and corneal ulcers. Treatments vary by type. Non-surgical treatments include eye drops, ointments, taping or patching of the eyes to retain moisture, special glasses, and weights to close the eyelids. Surgical options include tarsorrhaphy, gold or platinum weight implants, upper eyelid surgery, lower eyelid surgery or a facial surgery to lift the face while moving soft tissue. 

If you wonder why you can’t fully close your eye and have any of the described symptoms, call your eye care provider today.