Facial Spasms

Blepharospasm

Blepharospasm is an involuntary contraction and spasm of the eyelid muscles that causes your eyes to squeeze shut. Blepharospasm is more common in women and usually appears after the age of 50. Generally, one will notice that one's eyes are blinking and twitching more often. On occasion, it can progress to repeated, forceful, involuntary closing of the eyes.

Bright lights, fatigue, watching television, driving, and stress can all exacerbate your condition. Sleeping, walking, concentrating on a task and relaxation exercises may provide temporary relief.

The most common treatment for severe blepharospasm is the injection of small amounts of botulinum toxin (Botox) into the eye muscles to partially paralyze them and return them to normal function. Results are temporary, so treatment must be repeated every few months.

Hemifacial Spasm

Hemifacial spasm (HFS) is a condition that causes involuntary contractions of the muscles on one side of the face. The disorder occurs in both men and women, usually beginning in middle age. Symptoms often begin as a twitching of the eyelid and may gradually spread to involve the muscles of the lower face. The condition may be caused by a blood vessel pressing on a facial nerve, a facial nerve injury, a tumor or it may have no apparent cause.

After Dr. Haas has ruled out other more serious underlying conditions, the most common treatment for HFS is the injection of botulinum toxin (Botox), a neurotoxin, into the affected muscles. In some cases, surgery by an oculoplastics (facial plastic) surgeon may be necessary.

If botulinum toxin (Botox) is the best treatment for your condition, Dr. Haas will inject the drug into the involved facial muscles in a simple, outpatient procedure.

Botulinum toxin has proven to be a safe treatment for HFS with few side effects. The injections will probably work for about four to six months, so repeated treatments are necessary. You should see the full effect of the injection about a week after the procedure.

Bell's Palsy

Bell's palsy is a disorder of the facial nerve, the seventh cranial nerve. This condition causes partial paralysis on one side of the face, affecting the muscles of facial expression. Bell's palsy usually occurs in adults and develops suddenly.

Symptoms of Bell's palsy include the inability to smile on one side or close one eyelid completely, decreased tear production and sense of taste, blurry vision, and distorted hearing.

The causes of Bell's palsy are varied. In most cases, the cause is never identified, but it is believed that Bell's palsy often develops secondary to a viral inflammation. Other causes include activation of the body's immune system and changes in blood flow. Bell's palsy is more common in patients with diabetes and in pregnant women.

Most of the time, Bell's palsy disappears on its own after a few months. Eye lubricants may be used to prevent complications. In some cases, corticosteroid or antiviral drugs may be used to help in the treatment of this condition.