Wednesday 28 September 2016

The average person blinks 10 to 20 times per minute. This rate is increased in blepharospasm. The prevalence of blepharospasm is about five per 100,000 of the general population. It is more common in women and occurs mainly in those over the age of 60.

Published 14/04/2015 | 02:30

I have a recurrent twitching of my eye. It can occur any time and lasts a few hours. Someone mentioned to me that Botox injections may help. Is this true? Do I need treatment or will this go away on its own?

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The average person blinks 10 to 20 times per minute. This rate is increased in blepharospasm. The prevalence of blepharospasm is about five per 100,000 of the general population. It is more common in women and occurs mainly in those over the age of 60.

There may be vague eye pain, increased tearing, eye irritation or light sensitivity prior to the onset of an increased blink rate which is the usual first sign.

Spasm may occur at any time but triggers include wind, sunlight, stress or noise. The exact cause is unknown. Symptoms start in one eye but then eventually become bilateral.

Concentrating on a specific task may help reduce symptoms when they occur. Other diversion tactics include having a conversation, whistling or humming, touching the face or walking. Wearing tinted sunglasses may reduce light sensitivity and help. Regular use of eye drops and proper cleansing of the eyelids makes irritation less likely.

Many drugs have been tried for blepharospasm. None have been really found to help. The main treatment used now is Botulinum Toxin (Botox) injection. More than 95pc of those affected report an improvement with this treatment.

Injections take a few days to take effect and need to be repeated approximately every three months. If Botox doesn't work, an operation which involves removing some of the muscles and nerves of the eyelid can help in 75 to 85pc of cases.

There is no cure for primary blepharospasm but the arrival of Botox has meant this is a very manageable condition for the majority of those affected.

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