What You Should Know about Involuntary Eyelid Spasms
For more than a decade, Dr. William Segal, Dr. Marc lay, and the other eye care specialists at Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons have been providing eye care to men, women, and children from all over Georgia. In that time we have helped thousands of patients and have seen virtually every kind of eye condition, from simple refractive errors to serious problems like cataracts and glaucoma. Here are the basic things that you need to know if you are suffering from a blepharospasm.
What is a Blepharospasm?
A blepharospasm is an involuntary movement of one or both eyelids, usually described as a twitching or uncontrollable blinking. Although seemingly innocuous and often unnoticeable to an outside observer, the temporary interruption of vision that a blepharospasm can cause is distracting and may interfere with everyday activities such as reading or driving. When the condition persists for days, weeks, or even months it can result in serious psychological stress and significantly impact a patient’s quality of life.
Why does involuntary eyelid movement occur?
Unfortunately, the underlying mechanism that causes a blepharospasm is still not fully understood, and the fact that there are several different factors, both environmental and internal, that seem to trigger the condition can make diagnosis and treatment difficult. Stress, sleep deprivation, and eye fatigue, all of which place stress on the tiny muscles that control movement of the eyes and eyelids, can trigger a blepharospasm, as can excessive quantities of alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine. Patients with allergies to various airborne irritants can experience eyelid spasms, but it may also be a sign of a more serious medical issue, like a bacterial eye infection or pinkeye, or even of a neurological condition like Bell’s palsy or Parkinson’s disease. A thorough examination during a comprehensive medical eye exam can help discover the cause of a chronic blepharospasm.
Who is most likely to be affected by a Blepharospasm?
Virtually anyone can potentially be affected by a blepharospasm, but involuntary eyelid movement most commonly occurs in patients between the ages of forty and sixty. It also appears to be roughly four times more common in women than in men. Patients who have experienced head or facial trauma or who have a family history of dystonia or tremors appear to be at an increased risk, as are those who have severely dry eyes and blepharitis, intraocular inflammation, meningeal irritation, or light sensitivity.
How can involuntary eyelid movement be treated?
When a blepharospasm is the result of an external irritant or stress, it is almost always temporary and can be easily treated by making relatively minor changes in lifestyle. For example, computer vision syndrome, one of the most common causes of eye fatigue, can often be alleviated by taking regular breaks when working on a computer. However, persistent cases of eyelid twitching need to be carefully evaluated by an eye care specialist. In severe cases, Dr. William Segal will treat patients suffering from persistent and chronic eyelid twitching with Xeomin®, a prescription injection similar to Botox® that can relax and smooth the muscles for several months at a time.
If you have any concerns about your vision, or any questions about how to best maintain the health of your eyes, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians and Surgeons to schedule an eye exam with Dr. William Segal or Dr. Marc Lay. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more information on how to keep your vision clear and healthy.