Blepharospasm and Dystonia
Blepharospasm and dystonia
Blepharospasm is a condition characterised by uncontrollable and sometimes painful muscle contractions around the eyes. Symptoms can include excessive blinking and involuntary closure of the eyelids. In the absence of any other identifiable eye or eyelid problems (e.g. an intermittent lower eyelid entropion), the cause is thought to be incorrect messages transmitted from the brain to the muscles around the eye (the orbicularis oculi muscle). This is known as “essential blepharospasm” and is a neurological disorder, which should be diagnosed and treated by a neuro-ophthalmologist or a neurologist.
Blepharospasm usually commences gradually with initial symptoms such as eye irritation, photophobia (a sensitivity to bright lights) and increased blinking. The frequency and severity of the eyelid muscle spasms often increases over the first one to two years. Symptoms usually appear between the ages of 50 and 70 but it may occasionally affect younger people. The condition is thought to affect approximately 7,000 adults in the UK.
The main treatment for essential blepharospasm is botulinum toxin injections, which are successful in controlling most patients’ symptoms. These need to be repeated every 3-4 months.
Our surgeons are very experienced not only in these injections but also in the surgical management of patients who fail to respond to treatment with botulinum toxin. We recommend that you review the information available about this condition and its management at the following websites: www.dystonia.org.uk and www.blepharospasm.org.