Marcus Gunn Jaw Winking

What is Marcus Gunn Jaw Winking (MGJW)?

MGJW is a condition where the eyelid “winks” with movement of the jaw. The condition is present at birth (though sometimes is not recognized by parents until later) with the family noticing that the eyelid moves or the eye opens more when the patient is breast or bottle feeding. It may be associated with drooping of the eyelid and usually affects only one eye.

Why does MGJW occur?

The nerves for the jaw movement connect to the muscles that control the eyelid. In MGJW, there is a bad connection between the nerves that power those muscles. Any movement of the jaw, such as sucking, chewing, or swallowing, can cause movement of the eyelid. People are born with this condition. The cause is usually unknown.

How can MGJW affect the eyes?

Sometimes, the condition can be associated with significant drooping of the eyelid (ptosis), the need for glasses to treat astigmatism, and misalignment of the eyes which can affect vision development. These conditions can be treated with glasses, patching, or surgery as needed to help with vision development. 

Does MGJW require treatment?

As children get older, many learn how to better control their winking by modifying their jaw movements making the condition less noticeable. For other children, the movements may become less noticeable over time. There are surgical procedures that can be considered for severe jaw winking or drooping of the eyelid.