Blindness and cosmetic facial fillers

World leader in anatomical research for plastic surgery, Prof Ian Taylor, discusses his lab’s recent study.

There are nearly 200 cases of blindness following facial filler injections worldwide, most commonly following Hyaluronic Acid (HA) or autologous fat injections. The blindness is attributed to the occurrence of an ophthalmic artery embolism.

Leading plastic surgery journal, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, recently published an anatomical study on this issue Professor Ian Taylor’s Lab, based in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience.

The study sought to further understand why blindness, due to facial filler injections may be delayed for up to two weeks, and where it may have followed injection at remote sites, suggesting alternative pathways and pathogenesis.

It revealed pathways from remote sites where filler can pass unobstructed to the eye - for example, an injection of lip or nasal tip can reach not only eye on same side as the injection but the opposite eye as well. Fillers injected anywhere in the face can produce blindness - not only injections around the eye specifically. The study also showed potential arterial and venous pathways for filler embolus to cause blindness or visual field defects.

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The University’s expertise in anatomical education and research has been enhanced by the recently formed Melbourne Academy of Surgical Anatomy, which aims to become an international leader in clinically-applied anatomy, informing clinical practice and providing life-long opportunities for development of clinicians in all disciplines.