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NINDS Disorders is an index of neurological conditions provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This valuable tool offers detailed descriptions, facts on treatment and prognosis, and patient organization contact information for over 500 identified neurological disorders.

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Benign Essential Blepharospasm

Benign essential blepharospasm (BEB) is a progressive neurological disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions and spasms of the eyelid muscles. It is a form of dystonia, a movement disorder in which muscle contractions cause sustained eyelid closure, twitching or repetitive movements. BEB begins gradually with increased frequency of eye blinking often associated with eye irritation. Other symptoms may include increasing difficulty in keeping the eyes open, and light sensitivity. Generally, the spasms occur during the day, disappear in sleep, and reappear after waking. As the condition progresses, the spasms may intensify, forcing the eyelids to remain closed for long periods of time, and thereby causing substantial visual disturbance or functional blindness. It is important to note that the blindness is caused solely by the uncontrollable closing of the eyelids and not by a dysfunction of the eyes. BEB occurs in both men and women, although it is especially common in middle-aged and elderly women.

Treatment

In most cases of BEB the treatment of choice is botulinum toxin injections which relax the muscles and stop the spasms. Other treatment options include medications (drug therapy) or surgery--either local surgery of the eye muscles or deep brain stimulation surgery.

Prognosis

With botulinum toxin treatment most individuals with BEB have substantial relief of symptoms. Although some may experience side effects such as drooping eyelids, blurred or double vision, and eye dryness, these side effects are usually only temporary. The condition may worsen or expand to surrounding muscles; remain the same for many years; and, in rare cases, improve spontaneously.

Research

The NINDS supports a broad program of research on disorders of the nervous system, including BEB. Much of this research is aimed at increasing understanding of these disorders and finding ways to prevent, treat, and cure them.

View a list of studies currently seeking patients.

View more studies on this condition.

Organizations

Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation

Works to undertake, promote, develop, and carry on the search for the cause and a cure for benign essential blepharospasm and other related disorders and infirmities of the facial musculature.

637 North 7th Street Suite 102
P.O. Box 12468
Beaumont, TX 77726-2468
Tel: 409-832-0788
Fax: 409-832-0890

Dystonia Medical Research Foundation

Non-profit medical research foundation that funds research, advances awareness, and provides education and support on dystonia, a movement disorder.

1 East Wacker Drive
Suite 2810
Chicago, IL 60601-1905
Tel: 312-755-0198
Fax: 312-803-0138

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