Benign essential blepharospasm (pronounced (blef-rO-“spaz-m ), or BEB, is an excessive and uncontrollable blink, tic, or twitch of the muscles of the eye area. BEB may begin gradually, but without treatment it that may escalate to complete, temporary closure of the eyelid. The muscular spasm associated with BEB is also called dystonia, or abnormal, involuntary, sustained muscle contractions and spasms.
The term Benign Essential Blepharospasm means: the condition is not life threatening (“benign”), is of medically unknown cause (“essential”), and is focused around the eye (“blepharo”). With BEB, the eye itself is normal and the disturbance lies solely with the surrounding muscle.
BEB should not be confused with ptosis, a drooping of the eyelid, blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelid, or hemifacial spasm, a condition marked by more rapid and brief muscle contraction that usually involves the eye plus the surrounding area of the face.
Certain activities or environmental stresses, like bright light or emotional tension, may bring about or increase BEB. Sleep or other activities that require concentration may reduce or temporarily stop BEB. Most people develop BEB spontaneously and with no link to any particular cause.
There is no known cure for BEB and hemifacial spasm. But effective treatments are available. There are numerous drugs and therapies, including BOTOX®, that may help relieve symptoms and may be covered by your insurance. Stress-reducing lifestyle changes and avoiding known environmental causes may also help. Talk to our physicians about possible treatment options.
For more information on BEB, hemifacial spasm, and dystonia, visit the Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation, Inc., the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation.