Help and frequently asked questions

What is blepharospasm?


Blepharospasm is a rare eye condition that can affect virtually anyone. This ailment is characterised by occasional spasms in the muscles surrounding the eyes, and is most noticeable as excessive blinking. It is also sometimes known as eye dystonia, cranial dystonia or adult onset focal dystonia.

The cause of blepharospasm is largely unknown, but can worsen with factors such as bright lights, reading or stress. Generally speaking, it is believed many causes of this condition are in the genes, so inheritance could be a factor. It could also be the case that it results from a mixture of inheritance and exposure.

Other reasons include injuries to the brain, or an infection.While anyone can present this condition, it will most likely appear at middle age, between 40 and 65 years of age. It is rare for it to appear in children or older adults, and is more common in women.

There is no test available to determine whether you have blepharospasm. Instead, an ophthalmologist or optometrists will be able to carry out some tests to rule out other conditions, such as allergies or dry eyes. Once the condition presents itself in the eyes, it will usually reach a maximum level of severity within the first few weeks or months. Beyond that, it can gradually worsen over the years, and in rare cases, can spread to other parts of the face, or even the body such as the neck.

For some people, blepharospasm will gradually disappear on its own. There is a chance that it will also return however.There is no cure for blepharospasm, but the range of treatments available means this condition can be managed.

Currently, one of the most well-known treatments offered to those dealing with this condition is regular botulinum toxin injections - also known as botox. The injections are used on specific muscles, where it acts as a relaxant and reduces the excessive muscle contractions.

Other treatments include medications such as clonazepam, lorazepam and trihexyphenidyl which can work as mild sedatives or can block neurotransmitters. If a treatment program with these solutions is ineffective, your ophthalmologist may suggest a myectomy, a surgical operation to remove some of the muscles affected around the eye. In some cases, treatment will take a mixture of all solutions available, as each case is different. A specialist or ophthalmologist will work through the options with you to find the best treatment for your situation.

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