This is the term used to denote failure of proper closure of the eyelids caused by inadequate blinking or lid deformity. In all these cases, the cornea is inadequately lubricated and exposure keratitis can develop. If untreated, this can lead to a serious situation; initially, the cornea shows punctate staining when a drop of fluorescein is placed in the conjunctival sac and subsequently, a corneal ulcer might appear. This, in turn, can lead to the spread of infection into the eye and without prompt treatment with antibiotics, the eye might eventually be lost.
As a general principle, it is important to realise that the sight could be lost simply because the eyes cannot blink. The principle applies especially to the unconscious or anaesthetised patient, where a disaster can be avoided by taping or padding the eyelids and applying an antibiotic ointment.
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