Blepharospasms/Hemifacial Spasms Treatment
What Is Blepharospasm?
Blepharospasm is an abnormal, involuntary blinking or spasm of the eyelids. Blepharospasm affects the eye muscles and usually begins gradually with excessive blinking and/or eye irritation. In the early stages it may only occur with specific precipitating stressors such as bright lights, fatigue, and emotional tension. It is almost always present in both eyes.
This condition does not effect an individuals vision or mental faculties. Vision is only affected by blepharospasm if the contractions become so intense, that it forces the eyelids closed. Blepharospasm can interfere with quality of life, it is important for people suffering to speak with a professional.
Symptoms of Blepharospasms
As the condition progresses, symptoms occur frequently during the day. The spasms disappear in sleep, and some people find that after a good night’s sleep, spasms do not appear for several hours after waking. In a few cases, spasms may intensify so that the eyelids remain forcefully closed for several hours at a time.
“I love Dr. Tarbet and her team! They are always so patient with me when I ask questions. Her team is always smiling and helpful.” -Sue
What Causes Eye Spasms?
Blepharospasm may develop spontaneously with no known precipitating factor or be inherited. Some people with blepharospasm have family members with dystonia affecting different body areas. Blepharospasm may be secondary due to drug exposure, or occur in association with disorders such as parkinsonian syndromes and Wilson’s disease.
One of the most effective treatments for blepharospasm/hemifacial spasms are regular botulinum toxin injection (Botox or Xeomin) to the affected muscles. The injections are painless and normally they last between 3-4 months. In most cases insurance will cover these injections, but only to the affected area.
Diagnosis of blepharospasm is based on information from the affected individual and the physical and neurological examination. At this time, there is no test to confirm diagnosis of blepharospasm, and, in most cases, assorted laboratory tests are normal.
Hemifacial spasms are non-dystonic condition involving various muscles on one side of the face, often including the eyelid, and caused by irritation of the facial nerves. The muscles contractions are more rapid and transient than those of blepharospasm, and the condition is always confined to one side.