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Blepharospasm Fact Book






Table of Contents

Other Names

Benign essential blepharospasm, hemifacial spasm.

What is Blepharospasm?

Blepharospasm is an abnormal, involuntary blinking or spasm of the eyelids.

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.

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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 eyelids.

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 blepharospasm.

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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Other Resources

The following resources may provide additional information on blepharospasm:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
National Institutes of Health
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
(800) 352-9424

Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 12468
Beaumont, TX 77726-2468
(409) 832-0788
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 factsheets.

Office of Medical Applications of Research
National Institutes of Health
Building 31, Room 1B03
31 Center Drive, MSC 2082
Bethesda, MD 20892-2082
(301)-496-5641

For additional information, you may also wish to contact a local library.

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