Blepharospasm or benign essential blepharospasm (BEB) is a muscle disorder that causes abnormal, involuntary spasms of the muscles around the eye(s). It is a focal dystonia, meaning it affects a localized area causing abnormal, involuntary, sustained muscle contractions and spasms. These spasms may result in uncontrolled narrowing or closing of the eyelid(s), causing impaired vision and making everyday tasks such as reading or driving difficult. People with blepharospasm usually have normal eyes, but the forced closure of the eyelids causes visual impairment. While the exact cause of blepharospasm is unknown, studies suggest that it is caused by abnormal function of the basal ganglia, a structure situated at the base of the brain that plays a role in coordinated movement.
What are the symptoms of Blepharospasm?
The symptoms of blepharospasm include increased and prolonged blinking, dry or watery eye(s), light sensitivity, and pain and soreness around the eye(s).
What are the treatments for Blepharospasm?
The primary non-surgical treatment for blepharospasm is botulinum toxin (Botox®) injections. Small doses of Botox are injected with a tiny needle into the affected eyelid muscles. Within a few days, the eyelid muscles relax and the ability to open the eyelid is usually restored. The affects of Botox last approximately three to four months, so reinjection is usually necessary for continued relief from the muscle spasms. If Botox treatments are not effective then a surgical procedure to remove the muscles responsible for eyelid closure called a protractor myectomy may be performed.
Effective management of blepharospasm often requires special expertise in botulinum toxin injections around the eyes as well as oculofacial surgery experience if non-surgical options do not adequately control the muscle spasms.
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