Blepharospasm is a focal dystonia characterized by involuntary eye blinking or eye closure. This usually begins gradually with excessive blinking and/or eye irritation. The severity of the spasms may lessen or vanish during sleep and may subside following rest. Concentration on a specific task may also reduce the frequency of the spasms. Some patients may experience spasms so intense that the eyelids may remain forcefully closed for several hours at a time. The symptoms are usually worsened by bright light, watching television, reading, stressful conditions and driving.
About two thirds of all patients have severe blepharospasms enough for them to be functionally blind, even if visual acuity is not affected. Blepharospasm can be seen in other neurologic conditions like Parkinson’s disease and also can be a side effect of certain medications.
The response to oral medications is poor and Botulinum toxin injections are now the treatment of choice. Surgical procedures such as cutting through the muscles around the eyes have also been done.
Meige’s syndrome is also called cranio-facial dystonia. Typical symptoms include involuntary blinking (blepharospasms), chin thrusting, tongue protrusion, squinting, light sensitivity and muddled speech.
- Treatments for Meige’s syndrome, such as Botulinum toxin injections , are the same as those for blepharospasm and other forms of facial dystonia.