Blepharospasm | Neurology & Neurosurgery | Loyola Medicine


Overview and Facts about Blepharospasm

Blepharospasm is a movement disorder that causes spasms in the muscles that control your eyelids. People with blepharospasm may experience eye discomfort or uncontrolled blinking. The condition can also cause fatigue, light sensitivity, or facial spasms.

The cause of blepharospasm is not currently known. Some cases may be hereditary, and the condition seems more common in older adults. Treatment can help provide relief from symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Blepharospasm

Symptoms of blepharospasm include:

  • Eyelid twitching
  • Frequent blinking
  • Dry eyes

Some people with blepharospasm also have other facial spasms or tics. Discomfort caused by blepharospasm can also trigger symptoms like fatigue or emotional distress.

Many people with blepharospasm find that their symptoms disappear when they are sleeping or entirely focused on a task. However, some people may experience symptoms even when resting.

Causes and Risk Factors of Blepharospasm

The cause of blepharospasm is currently unknown. Symptoms may be worsened by:

  • Air pollution
  • Alcohol intake
  • Bright lights
  • Caffeine
  • Certain medications
  • Fatigue
  • Smoking
  • Stress

Blepharospasm can occur in people of all ages, but it’s more common in older adults; and women are more likely than men to have this condition.

While blepharospasm is not harmful to your health, symptoms can be distressing. The condition can also worsen over time. While symptoms may be mild at first, they often grow more severe as the condition progresses.

Tests and Diagnosis of Blepharospasm

Blepharospasm can sometimes be challenging to diagnose. A full eye exam with a qualified ophthalmologist can help rule out other conditions. In some cases, your doctor may also refer you to a neurologist for extra tests.

Often, blepharospasm can be diagnosed during a physical exam. During the exam, your doctor may ask you when your symptoms began and how severe they are. Your doctor may also ask whether anything makes your symptoms better or worse.

Be sure to tell your doctor about any medications you are taking. Let your doctor know if you currently smoke, drink alcohol, or take illegal drugs. These substances can sometimes be responsible for blepharospasm.

Treatment and Care for Blepharospasm

Blepharospasm is often treated with prescription medications or botox injections. Botox contains botulinum toxin, a substance that can paralyze muscles. Thus, regular botox injections may help weaken the eyelid muscles affected by blepharospasm.

If botox injections fail to control your symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. A myomectomy procedure can remove certain nerves or muscles from your eyelid. Removing these tissues can prevent future eyelid spasms. Over 75% of patients who undergo myomectomy find relief from their symptoms. Your doctor can help you decide if this surgery is right for you.