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Is Horner’s Syndrome A Serious Condition & Can It Be Reversed?

Horner syndrome is a disorder that can arise at any age as an outcome of disease of the ophthalmic section of the cervicothoracic sympathetic nerves. Its origins vary from cancerous tumors to traumatic affronts. The traditional tetrad includes ptosis, anhidrosis, enophthalmos, and miosis.

Congenital Horner disorder, despite its name, results from both congenital and early-acquired damage to structures of the ophthalmic sympathetic pathway. This variation is uncommon and encompasses no more than 6% of incidents of Horner syndrome.

Is Horner’s Syndrome A Serious Condition?

Is Horner’s Syndrome A Serious Condition?

Physicians can substantiate a case of presumed Horner’s disorder through in-office pharmacological testing in an uncomplicated way but distinguishing benign from life-intimidating sources can create a substantial challenge.

Symptoms and signs, along with a comprehensive patient record and analysis of procedures, can assist the clinician to identify a possible lesion and, eventually, help oversee neuroimaging investigations and the following appointment to a correct professional.

Horner syndrome alters the eyes and its adjacent nerves as a consequence of paralysis of certain nerves. The typical symptoms are drooping of the eyelids in the affected portion which often appears as disproportionate pupil size. In addition to that, bloodshot eyes and sinking of the eye into the enophthalmos is a sign of Horner’s disease.

Horner’s syndrome can arise in individuals of all ages and both genders.1,2

Children who acquire this condition before age 3 also can have discoloration of the iris when compared to the other one. Their looks may not be clear on one side on sunny days or after playing.

The deformities in the eye region associated with Horner disease do not usually affect eyesight or fitness. However, the nerve damage that causes Horner syndrome may result from other health problems, some of which can be life-threatening such as a stroke or aneurysm. It is essential to obtain urgent treatment if you acquire other complications, such as head or neck pain.3

Can Horner’s Syndrome Be Reversed?

The occurrence of a phenomenon opposite to those of Horner’s disease involves pupillary distillation and hyperhidrosis that have been identified and known to have irritating symptoms. Several studies were conducted in many Horner’s syndrome patients, however, most of them provide brief analysis and apparently there are no patient follow-ups.

Similarly, an investigation was conducted on rats into the effect of a section of the cervical sympathetic chain on the nasal mucosa, it was noticed that the Horner’s syndrome became reversed when the rats were sedated at numerous periods after the previous surgery.4,5

As this study does not seem to have been described earlier, it was believed that a short account of the discovery should be documented. In all, 26 albino rats were operated upon: six were males of the Wistar strain, weighing between 315 g. and 387 g. at the time of operation, and 20 were females of the Sprague-Dawley strain, weighing between 197 g. and 305 g. The operations were carried out with aseptic precautions and under anesthesia induced by ether and maintained by an ether-oxygen mixture given through an intra-oral tube. In all instances, a Zeiss operating microscope was used.

When the rats were sedated for the elimination of the stitches one week after surgery, it was observed that the Horner’s syndrome became reversed as soon as the animals became unconscious. Instead of the eye on the denervated side showing enophthalmos and ptosis, the sunken globe became proposed and now protruded more than the eye on the unoperated side. When the rats recovered consciousness, the original syndrome reappeared.6


  1. Horner’s Syndrome | Cleveland Clinic https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17836-horners-syndrome
  2. Horner syndrome – Genetics Home Reference – NIH https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/horner-syndrome
  3. Horner’s syndrome | Genetic and Rare Diseases Information https://www.drugs.com/cg/horner-syndrome.html
  4. Chronic persistent Horner’s syndrome in trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia subtypes and alleviation with treatment: two case reports https://jmedicalcasereports.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13256-019-1986-y
  5. The reverse Horner syndrome. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5439369
  6. Reversal of Horner’s syndrome From the Department of Otolaryngology https://jnnp.bmj.com/content/jnnp/26/3/241.full.pdf

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 28, 2020

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