Benign Essential Blepharospasm
Benign Essential Blepharospasm (BEB) is a neurological condition that causes an involuntary closure of the eyelids.
Benign means it is not life threatening and essential means of unknown cause. blepharo is a Greek word which refers to eyelids and spasm to involuntary muscle contraction.
It is a type of dystonia, a movement disorder, and it often begins with an increased sensitivity to light and an increase in blinking which may be accompanied by a feeling of irritation in the eyes.
Some people may experience a feeling of "dry eyes" followed by a forced closure of the eyelids.
Symptoms and Related Conditions
BEB often begins with increased blinking and light sensitivity in both eyes. There may be other symptoms more often associated with dry eye syndrome, such as eye irritation or excessive tearing. However, the significant symptom of BEB is uncontrollable blinking and forced eyelid closure. Symptoms may worsen when a person is tired, under stress, exposed to wind or direct light. The symptoms usually disappear when the person is sleeping.
Diagnosis of BEB may be difficult, as it is often mistaken for more common conditions such as dry eye syndrome. Although many medical professionals are still not familiar with BEB, this situation is gradually being addressed as more doctors learn about it during their training and through organizations such as the BEBCRF.
Treatment and Prognosis
There are rare cases of spontaneous remission of BEB symptoms, but for most people it is a condition they will have for the rest of their lives. Fortunately, there are treatments and strategies that can improve the symptoms of BEB.
In addition, research is helping us learn more about the causes of BEB and develop new approaches to treatment.
Botox® researcher Roger Benoit. Image courtesy of Paul Scherrer Institute (Photo: PSI/Markus Fischer).