Blepharospasms/Hemifacial Spasms Treatment
What is a 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.
As the condition progresses, symptoms may 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.
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.
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 Spasm – A non-dystonic condition involving various muscles on one side of the face, often including the eyelid, and caused by irritation of the facial nerve. The muscle contractions are more rapid and transient than those of blepharospasm, and the condition is always confined to one side.
One of the most effective treatments for blepharospasm/hemifacial spasms are regular botulinum toxin injections (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.