What is blepharospasm?

Blepharospasm is an involuntary and repetitive contraction of the orbicularis oculi muscle (muscle around the eye), which can cause abnormal postures and movements. They usually appear gradually, gradually increasing in intensity and frequency. Once they start, they may continue intermittently and last for a few days, and then disappear.

What are the symptoms?

Blepharospasm causes certain characteristic symptoms, all of them very annoying:

  • Repetitive twitching or spasms in the eyelid that cannot be controlled (usually occurring in the upper eyelid but can also occur in the lower eyelid).
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Forced closure of the eyes, with the intention of making it go away

Causes of blepharospasm or why it occurs

The most common causes of eyelid muscle spasms are fatigue, stress and caffeine. More intense contractions with complete closure of the eyelid may be due to irritation of the surface of the eye (cornea) or the membranes lining the eye.

In addition, other causes may be:

  • A functional neurological disturbance in the central nervous system.
  • Side effects of some medications
  • Lack of lubrication in the eye, causing the eyelid to work too hard to evenly distribute scarce tears.

Can it be prevented?

Blepharospasm cannot be prevented, so it is necessary to detect it early. Also, if the patient tends to have dry eyes, it is recommended to apply lubricating drops, sunglasses or botulinum toxin, which relaxes the muscles temporarily so that they do not contract. Moreover, it is essential for the ophthalmologist to distinguish between blepharospasm and other ocular diseases: corneal pathologies, glaucoma or dry eye.

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What is the treatment?

Blepharospasm usually disappears without treatment. Sleeping more, drinking less caffeine and lubricating the eyes with eye drops help to improve blepharospasm. If the spasms do not stop, botulinum toxin is also useful. It is also very important to protect the eyes with sunglasses.

Finally, surgery can also be used: myectomy of the orbicularis oculi muscle and depressor musculature. It consists of partially or totally removing the fibers of one of the muscles of the upper eyelid, so that it does not close spasmodically.