Blepharospasm

Overview

What is blepharospasm?

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.

Funding and support for this material have been provided by Allergan.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of blepharospasm?

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.

Causes & Risk Factors

What are the possible causes and who is at risk for blepharospasm?

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.

Diagnosis & Tests

How is blepharospasm diagnosed?

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.

Treatment

What is the treatment for blepharospasm?

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.

Will blepharospasm eventually go away on its own?

No. Blepharospasm is a life-long disorder.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • My father had blepharospasm. Am I at risk of getting it? Can I pass it down to my children?
  • Could blepharospasm be a symptom of another condition?
  • Will I have to have surgery to treat this condition?
  • What types of medicines are you used to treat blepharospasm?
  • Could blepharospasm be caused by a medicine I’m taking?

Citations

  • Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation. Blepharospasm. Accessed 06/01/10
  • National Eye Institute. Facts about Blepharospasm. Accessed 06/01/10
  • 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 06/15/10
  • Dystonia Medical Research Foundation. Blepharospasm. Accessed 06/15/10

Funding and support for this material have been provided by Allergan.

Bibliography

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