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Cranial mononeuropathy III - diabetic type

Diabetic third nerve palsy; Pupil-sparing third cranial nerve palsy; Ocular diabetic neuropathy

This diabetic type of cranial mononeuropathy III is a complication of diabetes. It causes double vision and eyelid drooping.

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Central nervous system and peripheral nervous system

Causes

Mononeuropathy means that only one nerve is damaged. This disorder affects the third cranial nerve in the skull. This is one of the cranial nerves that control eye movement.

This type of damage may occur along with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Cranial mononeuropathy III is the most common cranial nerve disorder in people with diabetes. It is due to damage to the small blood vessels that feed the nerve.

Cranial mononeuropathy III can also occur in people who don't have diabetes.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

Neuropathy often develops within 7 days of onset of pain.

Exams and Tests

An examination of the eyes will determine whether only the third nerve is affected or if other nerves have also been damaged. Signs may include:

Your health care provider will do a complete examination to determine the possible effect on other parts of the nervous system. Depending on the suspected cause, you may need:

You may need to be referred to a doctor who specializes in vision problems related to the nerves in the eye (neuro-ophthalmologist).

Treatment

There is no specific treatment to correct the nerve injury.

Treatments to help symptoms may include:

Some people may recover without treatment.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Prognosis is good. Many people get better over 3 to 6 months. However, some people have permanent eye muscle weakness.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have double vision and it does not go away in a few minutes, especially if you also have eyelid drooping.

Prevention

Controlling your blood sugar level may reduce the risk of developing this disorder.

Related Information

Diabetes
Ptosis - infants and children
Mononeuropathy
Diabetes and nerve damage

References

Brownlee M, Aiello LP, Cooper ME, Vinik AI, Plutzky J, Boulton AJM. Complications of diabetes mellitus. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 33.

Guluma K. Diplopia. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 18.

Stettler BA. Brain and cranial nerve disorders. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 95.

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Review Date: 4/30/2018  

Reviewed By: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, SUNY Stony Brook, School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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