Benign Essential Blepharospasm (BEB)

What is Benign Essential Blepharospasm (BEB)

Benign essential blepharospasm is a nervous system condition that makes a person close his or her eyes without meaning to. Over time, episodes of this condition may gradually become more frequent and forceful, and eventually involve both eyes.

This can make it hard for you to keep your eyes open and do activities such as watching television, driving, or reading. If this condition is not treated, the eyes may close forcefully for long periods of time.

What are the causes?

The exact cause of this condition is not known. The condition may be passed down through families through an abnormal gene. Symptoms of the condition may be triggered by:

  • The wind.
  • Sunlight.
  • Noise.
  • Stress.
  • Fatigue.
  • Bright light.
  • Reading.
  • Driving.
  • Walking outside.
  • Air pollution.
  • Eye strain.

What increases the risk?

You are more likely to develop this condition if:

  • You are age 50 or older.
  • You have a family history of the condition.
  • You are female.
  • There are problems with the part of your brain that controls movements (basal ganglia).
  • You have a movement disorder called dystonia.
  • You have a history of eye diseases or trauma to the eye(s).
  • You take certain medicines, such as medicines that treat Parkinson disease.

What are the signs or symptoms?

The first symptom of this condition is frequent eye blinking or twitching that you cannot control. It may happen during the day and disappear at night. Other early symptoms include:

  • Eye dryness and irritation.
  • Eye irritation or pain from bright lights (photophobia).

You may get temporary relief from your symptoms when you sing, yawn, chew, or laugh.

Later symptoms of this condition include:

  • Winking and squinting for longer than usual.
  • Muscle spasms in your tongue and jaw (Meigesyndrome).
  • Inability to keep your eyes open for long periods of time.

Over time, symptoms may get stronger and last longer.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition is diagnosed based on your symptoms, your medical history, and a physical exam.

How is this treated?

There is no cure for this condition, but treatment can help with symptoms. Treatment options include:

  • Applying moisturizing eye drops (artificial tears) to the eye. These drops help to relieve eye irritation and dryness.
  • Getting an injection of botulinum toxin into the muscles that control eyelid movement. This treatment may need to be repeated every few months.
  • Taking medicines such as muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety medicines.
  • Having surgery to remove part of the eyelid muscles (myectomy). This may be done if injections of botulinum toxin do not work or they stop working.

Follow these instructions at home:

Lifestyle

  • Wear tinted sunglasses that block UV (ultraviolet) light.
  • Wear eye protection outdoors on windy days.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Try to manage or avoid stressful situations.
  • Do notwatch TV or have screen time for long periods of time.
  • Avoid things that trigger your condition.

General instructions

  • Learn as much as you can about your condition.
  • Work closely with your team of health care providers.
  • Use over-the-counter and prescription medicines, including eye drops, only as told by your health care provider.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.
  • Do notdrive if you are having an episode that affects how well you can see.
  • Keep your eyelids clean. Wash them daily with mild soap and water. This will help to prevent irritation and infection.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your symptoms are not controlled with treatment.
  • Your eyes are red, teary, or dry.
  • Your eyes droop.
  • You feel anxious or depressed.

Get help right away if:

  • You cannot open your eyes.

Summary

  • Benign essential blepharospasm (BEB) is a nervous system condition that makes a person close his or her eyes without meaning to.
  • The exact cause of this condition is not known. The condition may be passed down through families through an abnormal gene.
  • There is no cure for this condition, but treatment can help with symptoms.

Benign Essential Blepharospasm, Pediatric

Benign essential blepharospasm (BEB) is a nervous system condition that makes a person close his or her eyes without meaning to. Over time, episodes of this condition may gradually become more frequent and forceful, and eventually involve both eyes. This can make it hard to keep the eyes open and do activities such as watching television or reading. Most children with BEB will continue to have symptoms into adulthood. In some cases, symptoms improve over time.

What are the causes?

The exact cause of this condition is not known. The condition may be passed down through families through an abnormal gene. Symptoms of the condition may be triggered by:

  • The wind.
  • Sunlight.
  • Noise.
  • Stress.
  • Fatigue.
  • Bright light.
  • Reading.
  • Walking outside.
  • Air pollution.
  • Eye strain.

What increases the risk?

This condition is more likely to develop if:

  • You have a family history of the condition.
  • Your child is female.
  • There are problems with the part of your child’s brain that controls movements (basal ganglia).
  • Your child has a movement disorder called dystonia.
  • Your child has a history of eye diseases or trauma to the eye(s).

What are the signs or symptoms?

The first symptom of this condition is frequent eye blinking or twitching that your child cannot control. It may happen during the day and disappear at night. Other early symptoms include:

  • Eye dryness and irritation.
  • Eye irritation or pain from bright lights (photophobia).

Your child may get temporary relief from her or his symptoms when she or he sings, yawns, chews, or laughs.

Later symptoms of this condition include:

  • Winking and squinting for longer than usual.
  • Inability to keep the eyes open for long periods of time.

Over time, symptoms may get stronger and last longer.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition is diagnosed based on your child’s symptoms, his or her medical history, and a physical exam.

How is this treated?

There is no cure for this condition, but treatment can help with symptoms. Treatment options include:

  • Applying moisturizing eye drops (artificial tears) to the eye. These drops help eye irritation and dryness.
  • Getting an injection of botulinum toxin into the muscles that control eyelid movement. This treatment may need to be repeated every few months.
  • Taking medicines such as muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety medicines.
  • Having surgery to remove part of the eyelid muscles (myectomy). This may be done if injections of botulinum toxin do not work or they stop working.

Follow these instructions at home:

Lifestyle

  • Have your child wear tinted sunglasses that block UV (ultraviolet) light.
  • Have your child wear eye protection outdoors on windy days.
  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep.
  • Help your child manage or avoid stressful situations.
  • Do notlet your child watch TV or have screen time for long periods of time.
  • Help your child avoid things that trigger her or his condition.

General instructions

  • Learn as much as you can about your child’s condition.
  • Work closely with your child’s team of health care providers.
  • Give over-the-counter and prescription medicines, including eye drops, only as told by your child’s health care provider.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your child’s health care provider. This is important.
  • Make sure your child keeps her or his eyelids clean. Have your child wash them daily with mild soap and water. This will help to prevent irritation and infection.
  • If your child is of driving age, do notlet your child drive if she or he is having an episode that affects how well she or he can see.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your child’s symptoms are not controlled with treatment.
  • Your child’s eyes are red, teary, or dry.
  • Your child’s eyes droop.
  • Your child seems anxious or depressed.

Get help right away if:

  • Your child cannot open her or his eyes.

Summary

  • Benign essential blepharospasm (BEB) is a nervous system condition that makes a person close his or her eyes without meaning to.
  • The exact cause of this condition is not known. The condition may be passed down through families through an abnormal gene.
  • There is no cure for this condition, but treatment can help with symptoms.
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