What is Blepharospasm?
Blepharospasm is a form of dystonia. Blepharospasm is an involuntary, chronic, unremitting, bilateral, and forcible closure or blinking of the eyelids. It is a progressive neurologic dysfunction in the motor control center in the brain. It is caused by the rapid misfiring of the neurons in the central nervous system. Very little is known about the cause of blepharospasm.
Symptoms of Blepharospasm
In the beginning there may be only the occasional blinking, twitching, or involuntary closing of the eyelids.
People may also be light sensitive.
The eyelid spasms become more frequent, severe, and last for longer periods of time. The eyelids spasms may advance to the point that the eyelids cannot be opened. The spasms can progress so that people are unable to drive a car, difficulty speaking, and other daily life functions.
Incidence of Blepharospasm
Blepharospasm becomes more frequent in people through the forties, fifties, and sixties. Three times more women than men develop blepharospasm. Blepharospasm has not been shown to have any specific hereditary component. It can occur in more than one person in a family indicating there is some genetic predisposition.
Medical Treatment of Blepharospasm
Several drugs have been used with only minimal success such as Klonopin, Ativan, Artane, and Lioresal.
Botox® is considered the treatment of choice at this time. A series of Botox® injections are placed around the eyes. The Botox® stops or slows the spasms for 3 or 4 months. The treatments tend to last longer as more treatments are done over time.
Surgical Treatment of Blepharospasm
This involves surgically removing the muscles that are going into spasm around the eye. This is usually not performed unless someone has failed with medical treatment.
This involves surgically dissecting out and exposing the nerve fibers supplying the muscles of the face. The nerves leading to the area of spasm are cut and a portion of the nerve is removed. Very few doctors perform this procedure since the use of Botox®.
Other Possible Treatments of Blepharospasm
Hypnosis, biofeedback, acupuncture, and relaxation techniques are other possibilities.