Center for Digestive Diseases

UNM Hospitals Center
for Digestive Diseases

1001 Martin Luther King Ave. NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106

(505)272-2530 or

UNMH: (505)272-6839
CDD: (505)925-7849

Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy

What is Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy?

Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy or OPMD is an inherited (passed from generation to generation) disease which involves the muscles of the eyelids, throat, arms and legs.

What are the symptoms of Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy?

OPMD may cause droopy eyelids, difficulty speaking and swallowing, and weak arms and legs.

What causes Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy?

OPMD is caused by a genetic abnormality which alters one of the body’s proteins. This may cause damage to some of the bodies muscle cells.

How is Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy diagnosed?

OPMD may be suspected by your doctor if you have droopy eyelids, weak voice or trouble swallowing.  A blood test is available which can confirm the presence of the genetic abnormality found in OPMD.

What is the treatment for Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy?

Speech and language therapists may be helpful in suggesting ways to improve problems with your voice and swallowing.

Surgical procedures are available to help with the droopy eyelids.

Procedures to stretch the muscle between the throat and swallowing tube (cricopharyngeus muscle) may relieve swallowing problems.  This can be done during upper endoscopy (EGD; esophagogastroduodenoscopy) which is an outpatient procedures done under conscious sedation. If this is not helpful, Botox injections into this muscle or surgery to cut the muscle may be helpful.