Sinusitis and Your Eyes: Protecting Your Vision

Close up blue eye with makeup looking at the side for vision.

How can sinus disease and treatment affect your vision?

Sinusitis generally affects anything above your head. The nose, your face, your throat, and most importantly, your eyes. When infection impacts your sinuses, the surrounding area tends to suffer as well. The closest thing to your sinuses is your eyes. In fact, the sinuses surround eyes. As the disease progresses and becomes chronic sinusitis, you’ll experience symptoms in this area. In rare cases, treatment for the disease can also have an impact on your vision.

The Impact to Your Vision

A sinus infection causes the sinuses to become inflamed and swell up. The biggest problem with this symptom is that it blocks drainage, causing infection to persist. It also makes it difficult to breathe as it blocks the nasal airways as well. What most people don’t know about sinusitis is that the swelling can build pressure behind the eye.

When pressure builds up, this means that your infection has spread. This situation is known as an orbital complication and occurs when a diagnosis of sinusitis is delayed or left untreated. The complications that can arise include the following:

  • Pain the eyes
  • Redness
  • Swelling eyelids
  • Bulging eyes
  • Impaired eye movement
  • Double vision
  • Blindness

These same symptoms can develop in people with the allergies, the common cold, fungal infection, or a deviated septum.

Prevention of Sinusitis

The common cold and other infections can be avoided. Staying healthy requires proper care and management. In a previous blog post, we’ve discussed how washing your hands frequently and keeping your hands away from your face can lower your chances of contracting the disease. You’ll also want to avoid bad habits like smoking, which can cause sinusitis.

Sometimes, it is not that easy to prevent sinusitis from occurring. When your symptoms first arise, you’ll want to see your doctor. Surgical options won’t be presented to you at first. Instead, your physician may prescribe medications to diminish your symptoms until your body fights off the infection itself. In many cases, the infection will persist despite medications. At this point, your condition has developed into chronic sinusitis and you will likely need surgery.

How Treatment Can Affect Your Eyes

When it comes to treatment for a chronic sinus infection, both Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) and Balloon Sinuplasty run the risk of affecting your eyes. Resolving the condition requires operating on the sinuses, which is close to the optic nerve. Extreme cases can lead to damage to the tear ducts, blindness, double vision, brain injury, and a leakage of cerebrospinal fluid.

Your doctor can discuss these risk with you in detail. Once again, these conditions happen rarely. In Balloon Sinuplasty, there are very few orbital complications that occur with this procedure. The results for FESS are a bit different. While initial surgery has a low rate of complications, repeat sinus surgeries have been known to increase the risk of orbital injury.

Consulting an Otolaryngologist

The important thing to remember is that chronic sinusitis needs to be treated as soon as possible. You’ll want an expert opinion to evaluate your condition and find out what options are best for you. Once medications stop working and you suspect that you have chronic sinusitis, seek out an otolaryngologist.

These physicians are also known as Ear, Nose, and Throat doctors, or ENT for short. Otolaryngologists specialize in conditions that affect the ear, nose, and throat. Any condition or diseases like sleep apnea, voice and swallowing disorder, sinusitis, hearing loss, or neck masses is within their realm of study. An otolaryngologist can properly diagnose your symptoms and perform the treatment you need.

If you live in New York, you should contact the office of Dr. Eric Cohen. As a board-certified otolaryngologist, Medical Director of the Cure Snoring Center, and a founding member of the New York Head and Neck Institute, he is more than qualified to take your case. Dr. Cohen is also one of the leading practitioners of the Balloon Sinuplasty procedure. He can tell you the risks to your vision and benefits to using this option to resolve your sinusitis symptoms.

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