What is Blepharospasm?
Blepharospasm is an involuntary blinking of the eyelids. The eyelids are normally used to blink the eyes every couple seconds. In patients with blepharospasm, their eyelids spasm without control causing the eyelids to continuously close shut. Patients can have severe light sensitivity and be disabled.
Blepharospasm is commonly seen in middle aged women though men can get it as well.
What are the first signs of Blepharospasm?
The first signs of blepharospasm are usually excessive blinking, sensitivity to light or twitch of the eyelid.
What causes Blepharospasm?
Blepharospasm is a disease of the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia is associated with coordinated movement. Blepharospasm is a disease where we don’t really know the underlying reason for it to occur. This is the subtype of benign essential blepharospasm. There are other types of blepharospams which have causes such as MS or dry eyes. Blepharospasm is a dystonia meaning a problem with muscle movement.
What is the treatment for Blepharospasm?
The treatment for blepharospasm is botox injections. These are given every three to four months in the face indefinitely. 95% of patients have relief after botox injection and can continue their normal lives. Some patients do not respond to botox and need other treatments. Botox works by paralyzing the muscles that are spasming The Botox takes about 5-7 days to kick in and lasts 3-4 months.
Another treatment for Botox is surgery where the spasming eyelid muscles are removed or cut. This reduces the spasm but 90% of patients will still need botox. This surgery is reserved for people where botox is not fully working. This is an outpatient surgery that takes about 1 hour to perform.
Rose tinted glasses are helpful to reduce the spasm in blepharospasm. We don’t know 100% why this is exactly but we do know that it helps to reduce the symptoms.
Finally, oral medications are sometimes given to patients with blepharospasm but these often are not considered very effective.
Does Dr Thiagarajah treat Blepharospasm?
Dr Thiagarajah treats Blepharospasm, Hemifacial spasm and Meige syndrome. All three dystonias are treated with Botox injections and/or surgery. After evaluation Dr Thiagarajah can help to direct the patient towards the best treatment.