Merck Manual

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James Garrity

, MD, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science

Last full review/revision Jul 2020| Content last modified Jul 2020
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Blepharospasm is spasm of muscles around the eye causing involuntary blinking and eye closing.

Symptoms are involuntary blinking and closing of the eyes; in severe cases, people cannot open their eyes. Spasms may be made worse by fatigue, bright light, and anxiety.

Treatment of blepharospasm involves injecting botulinum toxin type A into the eyelid muscles; treatment must be repeated in most instances. Anxiolytics may help. Surgery to cut the periorbital muscles is also effective but, because of potential complications, is considered only if botulinum toxin is ineffective. Sunglasses help decrease the light sensitivity that may cause or accompany blepharospasm. Temporary relief can also be obtained by alleviating maneuvers such as touching the face, covering the eyes, singing, or yawning.

General references

  • 1. Kilduff CLS, Casswell EJ, Salam T, et al: Use of alleviating maneuvers for periocular facial dystonias. JAMA Ophthalmol 134:1247-1252, 2016. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.3277

  • 2. Lee AG, Miller NR: Alleviating maneuvers for benign essential blepharospasm and hemifacial spasm. JAMA Ophthalmol 134:1253-1254, 2016. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.2983

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