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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Marcus Gunn phenomenon

Other Names for this Disease
  • Familial Marcus Gunn phenomenon (subtype)
  • Jaw-winking
  • Marcus Gunn syndrome
  • Maxillopalpebral synkinesis
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What is Marcus Gunn phenomenon?

How might Marcus Gunn phenomenon be treated?

What is Marcus Gunn phenomenon?

Marcus Gunn phenomenon is a rare condition characterized by movement of the upper eyelid in a rapid rising motion (a "wink") each time the jaw moves.[1] The wink phenomenon may be elicited by opening the mouth, thrusting the jaw to the side, jaw protrusion, chewing, smiling, or sucking.[2] It is usually present at birth and may occur with other eye abnormalities (such as strabismus) or vision problems.[1][[2] Although it is usually unilateral, it can affect both eyes in rare cases.[2] The exact cause is not known. Marcus Gunn phenomenon is generally sporadic, but familial cases with autosomal dominant inheritance have been reported.[3][2] Treatment is not always needed but may include surgery in more severe cases.[4]
Last updated: 3/6/2013

How might Marcus Gunn phenomenon be treated?

Treatment of Marcus Gunn phenomenon is not always needed because the condition tends to grow less noticeable with age.[4] Associated eye problems, such as horizontal strabismus, amblyopia, vertical strabismus, and double elevator palsy typically need to be addressed in affected individuals before considering how to manage the condition itself.[5] These related eye problems may be corrected with eyeglasses, surgery, and/or medications.[4]

Surgery for Marcus Gunn phenomenon may be considered for ptosis and jaw winking that are considered cosmetically significant, or causing amblyopia. Depending on the degree of ptosis and severity of jaw winking, several surgical techniques have been proposed.[5] For mild Marcus Gunn phenomenon, management has included observation, levator muscle resection, and the Fasanella-Servat procedure.[5]

More detailed information about treatment of Marcus Gunn phenomenon is available on Medscape Reference's Web site and can be viewed here.
Last updated: 3/6/2013

  1. Marcus Gunn Phenomenon. National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). 2003; Accessed 7/1/2009.
  2. Sean M Blaydon. Marcus Gunn Jaw-winking Syndrome. Medscape Reference. November 16, 2011; Accessed 3/5/2013.
  3. Marcus-Gunn syndrome. Orphanet. April 2007; Accessed 3/4/2013.
  4. Marcus Gunn Phenomenon. Marcus Gunn Phenomenon. March 24, 2008; Accessed 3/6/2013.
  5. Demirci H, Frueh BR, Nelson CC. Marcus Gunn jaw-winking synkinesis: clinical features and management. Ophthalmology. July 2010; 117(7):1447-1452.