Bell's palsy is a temporary weakness or paralysis of the facial nerve known as the seventh cranial nerve. It will affect about one person out of between 60 or 70.
The maximum weakness onsets after roughly 48 hours prior to the onset,pain can often be felt behind the ear. There are no neurological signs though Bell's Palsy appears similar to a stroke.
Bell's Palsy will affect the sufferers eyes as they will be unable to blink on the affected side of the face. In some cases, at the same time, the lower eyelid may turn outward . The whole face and lips on the affected side will droop and their will be very little or no control over the muscles. As the muscle that opens our eyes are controlled by a separate cranial nerve, you can infact open the affected eye but won't be able to close it. Dry eye is therefore a common complaint but it is an extreme dry eye called keratitis which will need to be lubricated with non-preserved artificial tears and eye ointments. You can patch or tape the affected eye shut while sleeping to aid in keeping it moist.
Should the eyelid start turning outwards, surgery may be required. The figures for recovery from Bell's Palsy are roughly 80% recovering within six months. Sufferers should be sure to look after their affected eye throughout the duration of the condition to avoid ulcers on the cornea and scarring of the eye.