Blepharospasm is an abnormal, involuntary blinking or spasm of
What causes Blepharospasm?
Blepharospasm is associated with an abnormal function of the
basal ganglion from an unknown cause. The basal ganglion is the part
of the brain responsible for controlling the muscles. In rare cases,
heredity may play a role in the development of blepharospasm.
What are the symptoms of Blepharospasm?
Most people develop blepharospasm without any warning symptoms.
It may begin with a gradual increase in blinking or eye irritation.
Some people may also experience fatigue, emotional tension, or
sensitivity to bright light. As the condition progresses, the
symptoms become more frequent, and facial spasms may develop.
Blepharospasm may decrease or cease while a person is sleeping or
concentrating on a specific task.
How is Blepharospasm treated?
To date, there is no successful cure for blepharospasm, although
several treatment options can reduce its severity.
In the United States and Canada, the injection of Oculinum
(botulinum toxin, or Botox¨) into the muscles of the eyelids is an
approved treatment for blepharospasm. Botulinum toxin, produced by
the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, paralyzes the muscles of the
Medications taken by mouth for blepharospasm are available but
usually produce unpredictable results. Any symptom relief is usually
short term and tends to be helpful in only 15 percent of the cases.
Myectomy, a surgical procedure to remove some of the muscles and
nerves of the eyelids, is also a possible treatment option. This
surgery has improved symptoms in 75 to 85 percent of people with
Alternative treatments may include biofeedback, acupuncture,
hypnosis, chiropractic, and nutritional therapy. The benefits of
these alternative therapies have not been proven.
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The following resources may provide additional information on
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20824
Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation,
P.O. Box 12468
Beaumont, TX 77726-2468
Promotes research into the cause, treatment, and
potential cure of benign essential blepharospasm and other
disorders of the facial musculature. Acts as a clearinghouse for
information on these disorders and distributes materials,
including printed brochures, bimonthly newsletters, and
Office of Medical Applications of Research
Institutes of Health
Building 31, Room 1B03
31 Center Drive,
For additional information, you may also wish to contact a local