Blepharospasm Overview


  • Second most common form of focal dystonia1
    • Causes bilateral involuntary eyelid closure, and is centrally mediated2
  • Reported incidence is 5 cases per million population per year worldwide2
    • Blepharospasm is thought to be underdiagnosed; the actual incidence may be significantly higher2
  • Blepharospasm symptoms begin insidiously and include increased blinking, tearing, a feeling of irritation, and dry eye2
  • Progression of symptoms is common, and may lead in severe cases to legal blindness due to inability to keep the eyes open2
  • Stress can worsen symptoms, and they may be partially and temporarily relieved by use of a sensory trick, such as touching a portion of the eyelid2
  • Symptoms may improve after sleep2


  1. The Epidemiological Study of Dystonia in Europe (ESDE) Collaborative Group. A prevalence study of primary dystonia in eight European countries. J Neurol. 2000;247(10):787-792.
  2. Tsui JKC. Blepharospasm and hemifacial spasm. In: Brin MF, Comella C, Jankovic J, eds. Dystonia: Etiology, Clinical Features, and Treatment. New York, NY: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2004:151-158.