Involuntary facial movements impacting the entire, or sections of, an individual’s face may be indicative of a chronic eyelid disorder.
Have you ever experienced facial twitching, involuntary blinking, or eyelid spasms? These symptoms may be indicative of conditions such as blepharospasm or hemifacial spasms. These conditions can range in severity, from slightly bothersome to debilitating when trying to complete day-to-day activities.
What is Blepharospasm?
Blepharospasm is characterized by an abnormal, involuntary blinking or spasm of the eyelids. This condition can vary greatly in its severity.
Some people will experience mild and occasional eyelid twitching, which can be very annoying. Others experience blepharospasm as involuntary blinking, which can make opening the eyelids and seeing very difficult. The more severe type of blepharospasm can cause functional blindness, as patients are simply unable to open their eyes.
What causes Blepharospasm?
Blepharospasm is thought to occur in association with basal ganglion. The basal ganglion is the portion of the brain attributed to controlling muscle movements; it is believed that blepharospasm is caused by incorrect messages being sent from this region of the brain to the surrounding the eye.
What Are the Symptoms of Blepharospasm?
Blepharospasm often occurs with no real warning signs. For some patients, they may initially experience more mild symptoms such as a gradual increase in blinking or eye irritation. As time goes on, these symptoms can turn into full eyelid spasms, making it hard to keep the eyes open. Blepharospasm tends to cease when a person is sleeping or focusing on a specific task.
Other symptoms of blepharospasm include:
- Emotional tension
- Light sensitivity
- Facial spasms
Treatment for Blepharospasm
There is currently no proven cure for blepharospasm. The condition in its mildest form often goes away with stress management and healthy lifestyle. The more chronic form of blepharospasm is not known to go away on its own. While there is no cure, there are treatments available to aid in the management of this condition.
The most commonly used treatment for blepharospasm, available at Silk Vision & Surgical Center, involves the injection of Oculinum (BOTOX) or Xeomin products into the eyelid muscles. This causes the muscles around the eyelids to become paralyzed, temporarily stopping the involuntary blinking and spasms.
Some patients opt for oral medications for blepharospasm. These are known to produce unpredictable results, and may only be helpful in approximately 15 percent of cases.
If other treatment methods fail, there is a surgical option. This surgery, called a myectomy, is performed to remove some of the muscles from the eyelids. This surgery typically improves conditions for 75 to 85 percent of cases.
Are you living with involuntary eyelid spasms? If your blepharospasms are impacting your quality of life, be sure to contact Silk Vision in Annandale or Manassas, VA!
What is a hemifacial spasm?
Hemifacial spasms, also known as tic convulsif, are classified by the involuntary contraction of muscles on one side of the face. Most commonly, when hemifacial spasms begin to occur, they only impact one eyelid. This can progress further over time and expand its impact to an entire side of an individual’s face.
While hemifacial spasms are typically not painful or life threatening, they oftentimes are uncomfortable, and may cause distress in individuals prone to these spasms.
What causes a hemifacial spasm?
A hemifacial spasm can be caused a variety of different ways. Common causes of hemifacial spasm include:
- Physical trauma
- The compression of a nerve, oftentimes caused by blood vessels or in some cases tumors
- Aberrant regeneration of the facial nerve, caused by Bell’s Palsy
Some cases of hemifacial spasm can occur after an individual recovers from Bell’s Palsy, a type of facial palsy. Bell’s Palsy is a condition commonly caused by facial trauma impacting the seventh cranial nerve. Bell’s Palsy causes paralysis, or weakening, of the muscles on one side of the face.
While many individuals with Bell’s Palsy experience spontaneous recovery, some will continue to experience what is referred to as aberrant regeneration of the facial nerve. As the nerve attempts to recover, this can sometimes lead to facial synkinesis, or a miswiring of the nerve – resulting in hemifacial spasms months or sometimes years after recovery.
Treatments for Hemifacial Spasms
Like blepharospasm, the most common treatment for hemifacial spasms are injectible fillers, such as Botox or Xeomin products. These fillers are injected into the affected muscles causing the hemifacial spasms, temporarily paralyzing the muscle and helping to cease the facial spasms.
Oral treatments may also help to alleviate hemifacial spasms in some patients.
If you are seeking relief from hemifacial spasms, Silk Vision and Surgical Center specializes in management and treatment of chronic eyelid disorders. Contact us or call for a consultation today!