Blepharo means “eyelid”. Spasm means “uncontrolled muscle contraction”. The term blepharospasm [‘blef-a-ro-spaz-m] can be applied to any abnormal blinking or eyelid tic or twitch resulting from any cause, ranging from dry eyes to Tourette’s syndrome to tardive dyskinesia.
It is usually a benign disorder and is very likely to improve with injectable treatments. Other blinking disorders can also be treated in the same way. “Benign” indicates the condition is not life threatening and “essential” is a medical term meaning “of unknown cause”. Patients with the benign condition have normal eyes. Any visual disturbance is due solely to the forced closure of the eyelids.
Blepharospasm should not be confused with:
- Ptosis – drooping of the eyelids caused by weakness or paralysis of a levator muscle of the upper eyelid
- Blepharitis – an inflammatory condition of the lids due to infection or allergies
- 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 and this condition is always confined to one side
The usual treatment for blepharospasm is injection of muscle relaxants, which in many cases can substantially improve symptoms.
A number of Neurologists at Neurology Network Melbourne specialise in these injections: