Blepharospasm refers to any abnormal blinking or eyelid twitch or tic. In the early stages it may only occur following specific precipitating factors such as tiredness, bright lights or emotional fatigue. The spasms are not present during sleep and often after a good nights sleep the spasms may not return until later in the day. Concentrating on a specific task may help to reduce the frequency or intensity of the spasms. As the condition gets worse the spasms may increase in magnitude so that the eyes become forcibly closed, sometimes for hours.
Blepharospasm is thought to be due to abnormal functioning of the basal ganglia which are located at the base of the brain. The basal ganglia are involved in the coordination of movements. Occasionally blepharospasm can be inherited and can also be induced by medications, such as those used to treat Parkinson’s disease.
The most effective treatment for blepharospasm is Botulinum toxin injections into the muscles which are contracting in an uncontrolled manner. There are also some medications (tablets) which can help to reduce the blepharospasm in those patients who have not responded to Botulinum toxin injection.