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How To Diagnose Horner’s Syndrome & What Is The Best Medicine For It?

Horner syndrome is a relatively rare disorder characterized by a combination of signs and symptoms caused by the disruption of a nerve pathway from the brain to the face and eye on one side of the body. Horner syndrome (Horner’s syndrome) results from an interruption of the sympathetic nerve supply to the eye affecting one side of the face, causing the eyelid to droop, the pupil to become small (constricted), and sweating to decrease.

The most widespread signs or symptoms are noticed in the eye. It’s a fairly rare condition. Horner’s syndrome can affect people of any age.

How To Diagnose Horner's Syndrome?

How To Diagnose Horner’s Syndrome?

Horner’s syndrome is diagnosed in stages. It will begin with a physical assessment by your physician. Your doctor will also look at your symptoms. If Horner’s syndrome is speculated, your physician will subsequently recommend you to an eye specialist.

Your health care provider or an ophthalmologist will perform tests to determine if you have Horner’s syndrome.

They’ll perform a physical exam and check on your past medical records to identify if you have had any sickness or infection that could result in nerve damage.

Then doctor applies drops in your eyes to look at how your pupils respond. If you have this condition one pupil won’t expand or drop as much as it should when the drops are applied.1

Tests To Confirm Horner Syndrome

Your doctor may ask for tests to show if you have any kind of growth, damage, or injury that could cause Horner’s syndrome:

Your doctor also may suggest a blood test or urine analysis to determine other health complications that could result in nerve damage. The eminence of some symptoms may assist your doctor to confine the search for the trigger of Horner syndrome. Your doctor may also conduct supplementary exams or order imaging tests to detect the lesion or malformation dislocating the nerve pathway.

Other tests include

MRI of the head and neck – Half of the patients with preganglionic Horner’s syndrome included lateral medullary are generally tested through a single contrast-enhanced brain magnetic resonance imaging

In addition to this pharmacological testing can help to confirm the diagnosis and identify if the lesion is preganglionic or postganglionic.2,3

What Is The Best Medicine For Horner’s Syndrome?

Once the analysis of a Horner syndrome has been established, a proper assessment should be done. There are no treatments specifically for Horner syndrome. The safest approach to improve your symptoms is to treat the health challenge that triggered them. In certain instances, if the symptoms are mild, no treatment is needed because typically, the eyelid only droops very slightly. Basically, the treatment depends on the underlying cause. The objective of treatment is to eliminate the underlying disease progression. Quick identification of the disorder and practical recommendation to proper experts are essential.

Ptosis is extremely benign and in rare instances alters vision in Horner disease. This can be rectified by cosmetic surgery or cured with eye drops. The provider can tell you more about whether surgical care is indicated and what type is appropriate for the particular cause of Horner syndrome. Possible surgical interferences include neurosurgical treatment for aneurysm-related Horner disorder and vascular surgical treatment for causative ailments such as carotid artery dissection or aneurysm

Most patients with this condition have no visible variations and endure mild ptosis. Seldom, lid surgery is recommended to cure recurring ptosis. Topical apraclonidine rectifies the ptosis related to Horner disease and may be applied occasionally for cosmetic purposes or when the ptosis lowers the visual area.4,5


  1. Horner syndrome – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/horner-syndrome/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20373551
  2. Horner’s syndrome | Genetic and Rare Diseases Information https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6670/horners-syndrome
  3. Horner’s Syndrome: Diagnosis and Tests https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17836-horners-syndrome/diagnosis-and-tests
  4. Horner’s Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/horner-syndrome#1
  5. What Is Horner’s Syndrome? – Horner’s Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments https://www.healthline.com/health/horners-syndrome

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 28, 2020

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