Blepharospasm or Involuntary Eye Movement

Eyes | Ophthalmology | Blepharospasm or Involuntary Eye Movement (Symptom)


Blepharospasm is a neurological movement disorder involving involuntary and sustained contractions of the muscles around the eyes.

The first symptom is an uncontrollable blinking. At first only one eye may be affected, but in time both eyes are usually affected. The spasms may leave the eyelids completely closed, causing functional blindness even though the eyes and vision are normal. Blepharospasm is a form of focal dystonia. Patients have normal eyes, but for periods of time are effectively blind due to their inability to open their eyelids.


The cause is unknown, but fatigue, stress, or an irritant are possible contributing factors. Blepharospasm can be induced by drugs, such as those used to treat Parkinson's disease. When it is due to antiparkinsonian drugs, reducing the dose alleviates the problem. Blepharospasm may also come from abnormal functioning of the brain basal ganglia. Blepharospasm can also be a symptom of acute withdrawal from benzodiazepine dependence.

Blepharospasm can also occur as a consequence of other conditions, called secondary blepharospasm, including brain injury, adverse reaction to prescribed drugs and multiple sclerosis. Blepharospasm often occurs out of the blue for no specific reason. Rarely, it can run in families.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Symptoms of blepharospasm are: excessive blinking and spasming of the eyes, sometimes lasting minutes or even hours, dryness of the eyes, sensitivity to the sun and bright light, uncontrollable contractions or twhiches of the eye muscles and surrounding facial area.

Treatments may include botulinum toxin injection, medical drug therapy and surgery. It is also possible that blepharospasm is a side-effect of some drugs and changing medication can stop it. Tiredness and bright light can trigger blepharospasm, therefore avoiding these helps to lessen the chance of spasms occurring. Wearing sunglasses and stress management are often recommended.