Brown Syndrome

What is Brown syndrome?

Brown syndrome is a condition where the eye has trouble moving upward and in. This can be present at birth or can happen later in life due to other problems. In a normal healthy eye, eye muscles easily move the eye in all different directions. 

The superior oblique muscle is located in the upper inner corner of the eye. The muscle has a sleeve around it that it moves through. In Brown syndrome, there is a problem with the superior oblique muscle moving through the sleeve. As a result, a person with Brown syndrome has problems moving the eye up and in. 


What are the symptoms of Brown syndrome?

People with Brown syndrome have limited eye movements in the affected eye. One eye may appear to be out of alignment compared to the unaffected eye, especially when the person looks upward. Other symptoms of Brown syndrome may include a droopy eyelid, a wide appearance of the eye when looking up, crossing of the eyes, and/or tilting the head backwards. The affected eye can appear to be lower than the other eye. Usually only one eye is affected, but both eyes may be affected in about 10% of people with Brown syndrome.


What are the causes of Brown syndrome?

When Brown syndrome is present at birth, most times the cause is never found. When Brown syndrome occurs later in life, it usually happens after an injury, surgery, or inflammation. Inflammation can be caused by other diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.


What are the treatments for Brown syndrome?

When Brown syndrome is present at birth, no treatment may be needed. The vision in each eye is usually good, and the eye alignment may improve over time. If the Brown syndrome happens because of another condition, treatment of the other condition may be enough to help the Brown syndrome. If there is a vision problem or if the person has to move their head in order to see, surgery can be done. The goal of the surgery is to free up the sleeve around the muscle so that the muscle doesn’t get stuck. Surgery usually works, but in rare cases the condition can return.