Blepharospasm is a commonly misunderstood condition that causes eyelid twitching and facial spasms. Patients with blepharospasm tend to go undiagnosed for years before receiving proper treatment. Our team at Eye Doctors of Washington is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of blepharospasm, helping patients receive prompt symptom relief for improved eyelid function.
What Is Benign Essential Blepharospasm?
Officially known as benign essential blepharospasm, this eyelid condition is a neurological disorder that causes abnormal blinking. Blepharospasm may affect only one side of the face—known as hemi-facial spasm—or both eyelids. It is not a life-threatening disorder but can impair vision when severe enough. Should blepharospasm continue to progress, it may eventually cause momentary “blindness” from the eyelids frequently closing, and facial spasms around the eye may develop.
What are the Symptoms of Blepharospasm?
The most noticeable sign of blepharospasm is excessive eye twitching or blinking. This tends to resolve when an individual sleeps, but it typically returns once they are awake. Other symptoms of blepharospasm include sensitivity to bright light and dry eye. Preventive measures that can potentially help reduce these symptoms include wearing a hat or sunglasses, avoiding facing windows, as well as using warm or cool compresses.
What Are Common Blepharospasm Causes?
A possible cause of benign essential blepharospasm is irritation where the facial nerve exits the skull. Symptoms tend to be exacerbated by fatigue, stress, or bright lights, which is why addressing these can help decrease the occurrence of spasms.
What Can I Expect During Blepharospasm Treatment?
Although there is no cure for blepharospasm, our ophthalmologist, Dr. Mary Catherine Fischer, offers effective treatment options to help control the symptoms. This may include solutions like BOTOX® injections, medical treatment, or surgery.
BOTOX® (botulinum toxin A) injections have been the traditional treatment used by ophthalmologists for resolving symptoms of blepharospasm. To provide this treatment, Dr. Fischer will administer small amounts of the injectable using a very fine needle into the muscles that are causing spasms. This will help the facial muscles relax, reducing the involuntary eyelid contractions. Patients who receive BOTOX® for blepharospasm can typically begin to see improvement within three days. While this treatment can often provide significant improvement for the condition, patients will need to return for follow-up treatments to maintain their positive results.
Depending on the severity of a patient’s condition, certain medical treatments may also be helpful, or Dr. Fischer may recommend the surgical procedure known as myectomy. In a myectomy, specific eyelid muscles and nerves are removed to prevent them from twitching. The most appropriate treatment method will be determined when Dr. Fischer has had the opportunity to perform a physical examination and better understand the details surrounding the patient’s symptoms. Based on this information, she will create a customized treatment plan with the goal of minimizing, if not completely eliminating, the excessive eyelid twitching and other bothersome, if not debilitating, symptoms.
If you have any questions about benign essential blepharospasm, or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fischer to receive a diagnosis, please contact EDOW today.