What is Blepharospasm?
Blepharospasm is a rare type of focal dystonia that causes uncontrollable and rhythmic twitching or involuntary closure of the eyelids. It can be associated with some neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, or can be idiopathic (without a known cause). Hemifacial Spasm is similar to blepharospasm, but also can include muscles of the cheek, lip and jaw on one side of the face.
No specific cause is usually found, but neuroimaging is recommended to rule out other conditions. Blepharospasm can make it difficult for patients to keep their eyelids open when driving, reading, or even talking.
Treatment involves reduction of environmental stimuli that exacerbate spasms, as well as functional Botox therapy to alleviate spasms. Associated involutional eyelid changes can also be addressed surgically to elevate heavy eyelids or improve closure.
What you can expect at the Robert Cizik Eye Clinic
The Cizik Eye Clinic opened in 2007 and is housed in Memorial Hermann Plaza at 6400 Fannin Street. It includes dozens of exam areas, multiple operating rooms, and laser suites equipped with the most sophisticated equipment available for patient care.
People travel from across the country and the world for treatment at the Cizik Eye Clinic, in part because our affiliation with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth provides unmatched resources and expertise. Our friendly staff works diligently to make your visit pleasant and efficient, as we maximize patient flow through everything from routine eye exams to the most advanced eye surgeries.
Our physicians are faculty members at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and are board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. At the Cizik Eye Clinic, we understand that the eye is a small part of a whole patient who deserves top-notch, comprehensive care in a cutting-edge facility.
Causes of Blepharospasm
Often, doctors aren’t sure what causes blepharospasm, but it happens when the part of the brain that controls the eyelid muscles stops working correctly. Women ages 40 to 60 are more likely to develop it.
Symptoms can be triggered by stress, fatigue, anxiety, bright lights, or electronics use. Genetics or diet might be a factor. Smoking and alcohol may also increase symptoms. It can be chronic and severe.
Symptoms of Blepharospasm
The condition might start with small twitches every once in a while, that feel like squinting or eye heaviness, but may escalate into spasms that make driving and other everyday activities difficult. A patient might experience frequent blinking, irritation of the eyes, eye drooping, or even double vision. Light sensitivity
Diagnosis of Blepharospasm
Eye twitching is common, especially when a person is stressed, tired, or has had too much caffeine. In most cases, that type of twitching will go away on its own. When eye twitching occurs for more than a few weeks or when your eyes close completely when they twitch, you should see a doctor.
An ophthalmologist will discuss your symptoms, conduct a full physical exam, gather your medical history, and determine the appropriate diagnostic tests. If blepharospasm is suspected, you might be referred for a neurological exam, which could include X-rays, an MRI, or a CT scan.
Eye twitching can also be indicative of a number of other conditions, including Bell’s palsy, multiple sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, or Parkinson’s disease.
Treatment of Blepharospasm
Treatment can include surgery, medication, and botulinum toxin injections, which are given to weaken the muscles that close the eyes to allow the patient more control. Injections are made into the muscle with an electrode attached to an EMG machine. A patient might need injections every few months. Medications also may temporarily relieve symptoms.
A procedure, called a myectomy, can remove some of the muscles and nerves in the eyelid to relieve the condition. Your doctor can provide you details on recovery of the safe, effective surgery.
At Robert Cizik Eye Clinic, we offer patients access to highly specialized eye and vision care. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-9400, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.