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Disease Profile

Benign essential blepharospasm

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

BEB; OBSOLETE: Benign essential blepharospasm; Primary blepharospasm;


Congenital and Genetic Diseases; Nervous System Diseases; RDCRN


Benign essential blepharospasm (BEB) is a progressive neurological disorder characterized by abnormal blinking or spasms of the eyelids. It is a form of dystonia, a group of movement disorders involving uncontrolled tensing of the muscles (contractions), rhythmic shaking (tremors), and other involuntary movements.[1][2] BEB occurs in both men and women, although it is especially common in middle-aged women.[1]

Initial symptoms include an increased frequency of blinking, dry eyes, and eye irritation. As the condition progresses, spasms of the muscles surrounding the eyes cause involuntary winking or squinting and increasing difficulty keeping eyes open, which can lead to vision impairment. In more than half of all people with BEB, the symptoms affect other facial muscles and muscles in other areas of the body.[3][1][2] When people with BEB also experience involuntary muscle spasms affecting the tongue and jaw, this is known as Meige syndrome.[2] The cause of BEB is unknown; however, some cases appear to run through families.[1] Although there is no cure for BEB, symptoms can be treated using various methods including botulinum toxin injections.[3]


This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
Percent of people who have these symptoms is not available through HPO
Autosomal dominant inheritance
Eyelid spasm
Eyelid twitching
Involuntary closure of eyelid
Spontaneous closure of eyelid

[ more ]

Middle age onset
No previous family history


Making a diagnosis for a genetic or rare disease can often be challenging. Healthcare professionals typically look at a person’s medical history, symptoms, physical exam, and laboratory test results in order to make a diagnosis. The following resources provide information relating to diagnosis and testing for this condition. If you have questions about getting a diagnosis, you should contact a healthcare professional.

Testing Resources

  • The Genetic Testing Registry (GTR) provides information about the genetic tests for this condition. The intended audience for the GTR is health care providers and researchers. Patients and consumers with specific questions about a genetic test should contact a health care provider or a genetics professional.


    FDA-Approved Treatments

    The medication(s) listed below have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as orphan products for treatment of this condition. Learn more orphan products.


    Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

    Organizations Supporting this Disease

      Learn more

      These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

      Where to Start

      • Genetics Home Reference (GHR) contains information on Benign essential blepharospasm. This website is maintained by the National Library of Medicine.
      • The National Eye Institute (NEI) was established by Congress in 1968 to protect and prolong the vision of the American people. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
      • The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) collects and disseminates research information related to neurological disorders. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
      • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a report for patients and families about this condition. NORD is a patient advocacy organization for individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them.

        In-Depth Information

        • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
        • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
        • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
        • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
        • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Benign essential blepharospasm. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


          1. Hallett M. Blepharospasm, Benign Essential. National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). 2016; https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/benign-essential-blepharospasm/. Accessed 11/2/2016.
          2. benign essential blepharospasm. Genetics Home Reference. May 2010; https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/benign-essential-blepharospasm. Accessed 11/2/2016.
          3. NINDS Benign Essential Blepharospasm Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). January 14, 2013; https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/blepharospasm/blepharospasm.htm. Accessed 11/2/2016.
          4. Graham RH. Blepharospasm, Benign Essential. Medscape. May 16, 2016; https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1212176-overview. Accessed 11/2/2016.
          5. Adams WH, Digre KB, Patel BC, Anderson RL, Warner JE, Katz BJ . Am J Ophthalmol. 2006; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16815254. Accessed 7/22/2009.
          6. Benign Essential Blepharospasm (BEB). North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society. https://www.nanosweb.org/patient_info/brochures/beb.asp. Accessed 7/22/2009.