Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Prognosis for Horner’s Syndrome as a Result of a Birth Injury

Cat with Horner's Syndrome

This cat developed left-sidde Horner’s syndrome after an injury. The cat’s left pupil is constricted (miosis).

Horner’s syndrome is a rare condition characterized by miosis (constriction of the pupil), ptosis (drooping of the upper eyelid), and anhidrosis (absence of sweating of the face). It is caused by damage to the sympathetic nerves of the face, and can be the result of a birth injury.

Horner’s syndrome is rare — with only 1 in every 6,250 cases occurring at birth, but of those born, 65% of the cases are from birth injuries or trauma.

Causes of Horner’s Syndrome

The underlying causes of Horner’s syndrome vary greatly and may include a:

  • Tumor, stroke, or other damage to a part of the brain called the brain stem;
  • Injury to the carotid artery; and
  • Trauma to the brachial plexus.

Horner’s syndrome can also be caused by the following:

In rare cases, Horner’s syndrome is congenital (present from birth) and associated with a lack of pigmentation of the iris (colored part of the eye). Treatment of Horner’s syndrome depends on the underlying cause.

Signs and Symptoms of Horner’s Syndrome

Symptoms of Horner’s syndrome typically include:

  • Drooping of the upper eyelid (ptosis),
  • Constriction of the pupil (miosis),
  • Sinking of the eyeball into the face, and
  • Decreased sweating on the affected side of the face (anhidrosis).

These symptoms may vary and other symptoms may occur depending on the underlying cause of the condition. Other symptoms which may be seen include the inability to completely close or open the eyelid, facial flushing, headaches, and pain.

Heterochromia iridium (i.e., a relative deficiency of pigment in the iris of affected side of the face) is usually present when the syndrome is congenital or caused by a lesion that has occurred before the age of 1-2 years of age.

There are many potential causes of Horner’s syndrome. It can be caused by any interruption of the sympathetic nerve fibers, which start in the hypothalamus and run via the upper spinal cord near the carotid artery to the face. Sympathetic nerve fiber injuries can result from a stroke in the brainstem, injury to the carotid artery, a tumor in the upper lobe of the lung, migraines, and cluster headaches.


Treatment depends on the underlying cause. There is no specific treatment for Horner’s syndrome itself, and, unfortunately, in many cases, no effective treatment is known.

Did your baby suffer a brachial plexus injury causing paralysis or palsy as the result of a medical negligence?

If you, or your baby suffered a severe injury as the result of a Cesarean section delivery, medical neglect, or malpractice you may be entitled to compensation. If you have questions about what happened and why your baby was injured, don’t trust an insurance company or doctor to provide you with all the information you need, call our lawyers today and take your first step in protecting you and your baby’s rights.

We offer a free legal consultation so you can tell us about your unique situation. We will be able to tell you if you have a case, the value of your case, and discuss your various legal options. We encourage you to at least talk to us and learn what your rights are so that you will have knowledge to help you make the best decision for your family about how to protect those rights for your child.

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The Los Angeles area law firm of Donahue & Horrow, L.L.P., handles birth injury cases throughout California. The initial consultation will be at no cost. All cases are billed on a contingency fee basis — there will be no cost to you unless or until we recover compensation in the form of an insurance settlement or trial award.

Contact us today and you will have taken your first step towards ensuring your child’s future needs will be met.