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Horner Syndrome


Disease: Horner Syndrome Horner Syndrome
Category: Neurological diseases
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Disease Definition:

When the nerves that travel from the brain to the eyes and face are damaged, a rare disorder known as Horner syndrome occurs.

Usually, only one side of the face is affected by Horner syndrome. A drooping eyelid, decreased eye pupil size and decreased sweating on the affected side of the face are some of the characteristics of this syndrome.

Horner syndrome is a sign of another medical problem, such as a tumor, spinal cord injury or a stroke, which damages the nerves to the face. However, sometimes an underlying cause cannot be found because Horner syndrome is not a disease in itself.

Horner syndrome has no specific treatment. However, when possible, treatment is directed at the underlying cause.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


Usually, only on one side of the face the signs and symptoms of Horner syndrome occur. They may include:


  • Decreased pupil size in the affected eye
  • Drooping of the upper eyelid (ptosis) and slight elevation of the lower lid.
  • Decreased or no sweating on the affected side of the face (anhidrosis)

In some rare cases, a baby could be born with Horner syndrome, in which case the iris in the affected eye could be lighter in color than the other eye.  

Someone should see a doctor in case he/she notices any signs or symptoms associated with Horner syndrome.


Damage to the sympathetic nerves, which control the body's circulation and perspiration, of the face and eyes cause Horner syndrome.

The sympathetic nerves that are found in the face don't pass directly from the brain to the face; rather, they have a long route. Horner syndrome occurs in case the nerves are injured at any point along their route. Because separate sympathetic nerves control each side, the signs and symptoms of Horner's syndrome usually occur on only one side of the face.

Some of the conditions that could cause Horner syndrome by damaging the sympathetic nerve fibers include:


  • Spinal cord injury
  • An injury to a baby during birth
  • Stroke
  • A tear in the inner lining of one of the carotid arteries, a condition known as carotid artery dissection
  • Tumor
  • Cluster or migraine headaches
  • Syringomyelia, a condition in which a fluid-filled cyst called syrinx develops within the spinal cord.

Sometimes, Horner syndrome could be a sign of one of these conditions. Idiopathic Horner syndrome is when a cause can't be found.





Horner syndrome doesn't have a specific treatment. Usually, when the underlying medical condition is effectively treated, Horner syndrome disappears.

A person may be recommended being monitored by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist), in case he/she is having difficulty seeing out of the affected eye.


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