Some Facts About Involuntary Eyelid Closing

Involuntary eyelid closing is a natural occurrence, something our eyes do several times a minute to protect the eyeball from particulate matter in the atmosphere and to keep the surface of the eyeball moist. Natural eyelid closing is something we are for the most part seldom aware of.

Eyelid Twitch - There are other types of involuntary eyelid closing however, one of which that can be of some concern. If you've ever experienced an eyelid twitch, and most people have, at times frequently, it is usually due to something external to the eye, but can sometimes be brought about by nervousness or stress. No one really knows the direct cause of eyelid twitch, but it is almost always temporary, and does not require treatment, especially when the contributing factor, such as stress, can be dealt with.

Hemifacial Spasm - Another condition which can cause an involuntary closing of the eyelid is a hemifacial spasm. This is a muscular spasm which involves a number of facial muscles and not just the eyelids. A hemifacial spasm generally involves spasms around the mouth as well, and only occurs on one side of the face. A hemifacial spasm is usually the result of an artery pressing against a nerve, and is usually treatable and curable through surgery. Injections of botulinum will sometimes provide relief, though usually only on a temporary basis.

Blepharospasm - The third condition, which is usually of greatest concern is called blepharospasm, literally eyelid spasms, manifested as both blinking and closing of the eyelid for a protracted period of time. In worst cases, the eyelids may close and the person involved may not be able to reopen them, effectively having lost control over the muscles surrounding the eyes. Even if the symptoms are short lived, they can still present challenges and even danger to the person involved, as both eyelids are usually affected simultaneously, and a temporary loss of vision is the result.

Blepharospasm affects up to 5% of the general population, although most cases are mild or of little consequence. Heredity is believed to be a factor as the condition appears to run in families. There are also connections between blepharospasm and tremors, writer's cramp, restless leg syndrome, and some obsessive compulsive behaviors. Stress and bright lights are often triggers, and certain thyroid conditions also appear to bring about blepharospasm incidents. Wind, fatigue, and pollution, including smoke, can also bring on eyelid closing incidents. Wearing tinted glasses or sunglasses may be all that some patients need unless the situation is becoming untenable.

Treatment Of Eyelid Closing - Blepharospasm is treatable, and in many instances curable. As was the case with the hemifacial spasm, an injection of botulinium into the muscles around the eyes will have a relaxing effect. This kind of treatment is usually good for several months, but eventually will have to be repeated. Occasionally there may be some side effects from the injections but these generally diminish, and over time disappear. A last resort is usually surgery, in which either muscle is removed or the nerve causing the muscle to spasm is removed. Surgery almost results in a permanent cure, but on occasion there may be side effects, which themselves could be permanent, though generally of lesser consequence to the patient than was the blepharospasm itself.

Essential Blepharospasm - In rare cases, blepharospasm symptoms may extend beyond the area surrounding the eyelids, affecting not only both eyelids, but the muscles of the eyebrows as well, and in some extreme situations, muscles in the mouth or neck may be affected. Unlike a hemifacial spasm, both sides of the face will be affected. Again, injections or surgery are the general means of treatment, though in the extreme case, known as essential blepharospasm, treatment can become quite complicated.

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