Blepharospasm (say: bleff-ero-spasm) is uncontrolled blinking or twitching of the eyelid, caused by muscle spasms around the eye. Symptoms can range from mild and not disabling to quite severe in some cases.
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If you have blepharospasm, at first, you may notice increased and uncontrolled blinking when you are tired, anxious, physically or emotionally stressed, or when you are exposed to bright light or sunlight. Over time, the uncontrollable blinking becomes worse. It may feel like you have no control over your eyelids and that it takes a lot of effort to open them. Blepharospasm can be severe enough that it may force the eyelids closed for several hours at a time.
Blepharospasm affects women more than men. It may run in families. A disease called dry eye may also put you at risk for blepharospasm.
Blepharospasm may be a symptom of certain neurological diseases, such as Tourette’s syndrome or Parkinson’s syndrome.
Be sure to tell your doctor about any medicine that you are taking. Some medicines can cause blepharospasm or make it worse.
If you or your doctor think that you may have blepharospasm, your doctor may want you to see a specialist. The specialist will ask you about your symptoms and perform a neurological examination.
There is no cure for blepharospasm, but there are several treatments that can help relieve your symptoms. Medicines that you take by mouth may help. Your doctor will talk to you about which medicine is right for you.
Your doctor may talk to you about surgery. During surgery (called a myectomy), your doctor will remove some muscles and nerves in the eyelids.
No. Blepharospasm is a life-long disorder.
Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation. Blepharospasm. Accessed June 01, 2010
National Eye Institute. Facts about Blepharospasm. Accessed June 01, 2010
Anti-basal ganglia antibodies are absent in patients with primary blepharospasm by Ramachandran A, Church A, Giovannoni G, et al (Neurology 2002;58:150 )
The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. Blepharospasm. Accessed June 15, 2010
Dystonia Medical Research Foundation. Blepharospasm. Accessed June 15, 2010
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff