Neurotrophic keratopathy is characterized by decreased corneal sensitivity, decreased reflex tearing, and poor corneal healing resulting in corneal injury. Without proper sensory innervation, the cornea undergoes continuous epithelial injury, ulceration, infection and eventually results in vision loss. In situations where patients have concomitant facial paralysis, such as after resection of a large vestibular schwannoma, the ocular health is further impaired by paralytic lagophthalmos with decreased eye closure and blink reflex, decreased tearing, and potential lower eyelid malposition. In patients with a dual nerve injury, the ocular surface is in significant danger, as there is increased environmental exposure in conjunction with the inability to sense damage when it occurs. Immediate recognition and care of the eye are critical for maintaining ocular health and preventing irreversible vision loss. The first modern corneal neurotization procedure was described in 2009. The ultimate goal in corneal neurotization is to establish sub-basal plexus regeneration via transferring a healthy nerve to the corneo-limbal region. Corneal neurotization can be achieved either via a direct transfer of healthy nerve (direct approach) or via nerve graft interpositions (indirect approach). This is an emerging concept in the treatment of neurotrophic/exposure keratitis and over the past decade multiple direct and indirect approaches have been described in the attempt to restore corneal sensation and to prevent the devastating outcomes of neurotrophic keratitis. Knowledge of these techniques, their advantages, and disadvantages is required for proper management of patients suffering from neurotrophic keratitis in the setting of facial paralysis.
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