Nocturnal lagophthalmos: An overview and classification

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28 Scopus citations


Nocturnal lagophthalmos is the inability to close the eyelids during sleep. Lagophthalmos is associated with exposure keratopathy, poor sleep, and persistent exposure-related symptoms. There are a variety of causes of lagophthalmos, grouped as proptosis/eye exposure etiologies and palpebral insufficiency etiologies. Although obvious lagophthalmos is usually detected, it is sometimes difficult to recognize obscure lagophthalmos, due either to eyelash obstruction or overhang of the upper lid anterior and inferior to the most superior portion of the lower lid in a closed position. We present a novel classification system and illustrations of obvious and obscure lagophthalmos. A diagnosis can usually be made with a focused history and slit lamp examination. Treatment is multipronged and may include minor procedures or ocular surgery to correct the lid malposition; natural, topical or oral agents; and punctal plugs to manage ocular surface effects. Correct and timely diagnosis allows greater opportunity for relief of patient suffering and prevention of severe ocular surface pathology, as well as educated planning for future ocular surgical procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-53
Number of pages10
JournalOcular Surface
Issue number1
StatePublished - 6 Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Dry eye
  • Exposure keratopathy
  • Eyelid
  • Lagophthalmos
  • Nocturnal lagophthalmos
  • Obscure lagophthalmos


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