Healthy Living

Surgery helps doctor with 10-year eye twitch

Monday, July 30, 2012

Millions of people get a twitch in their eye from lack of sleep or too much caffeine. Now, imagine it happening non-stop for more than 10 years.

That's just what happened to one man, whose facial spasms kept progressively getting worse over time. Then a local neurosurgeon reached out to offer help for this lifelong problem.

Dr. Vic Oyas' Oyas says it began to twitch on the left side of his face down to his chin, neck and shoulder. It's a rare condition called hemi-facial spasms.

Oyas, a pediatrician, says the non-stop twitching makes his young patients uncomfortable.

"I'm listening, and they say, 'Hey doctor, you're eye's twitching,'" Oyas said. "I'm just used to it."

UCLA neurosurgeon Dr. Neil Martin says the condition is an accident of nature. Oyas has a facial nerve bumping up against a pulsating artery.

"It is professionally and socially quite disabling," Martin said.

On top of that, Oyas' problem had a twist. Not only did he have one artery putting pressure on his facial nerve, he had three of them that were looped and pressing on the nerve, and this made the surgery on the complex neurological area much more challenging.

To do a craniotomy, doctors would have had to make a major cut through Oyas' skull, and neither medications nor Botox worked to stop the spasm. So, Martin proposed another option: relieving the pressure with a Teflon pad inserted through a small incision behind the ear.

This complicated procedure involved using several instruments to lift each delicate artery away from the nerve.

"We used two pads and one shredded piece to hold all three blood vessels away, and then we glue them in place, and we use a biological glue that is the same substance that forms a blood clot," Martin said.

Ten days after the three-hour surgery, Oyas' twitch was noticeably better.

"It's pretty much gone," he said. "I can smile better."

It will be a few months before the spasms completely disappear, but they eventually will. Oyas said he feels more in control than he has in 10 years.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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