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Glossary Term: Blepharospasm


Dog Blink - Mara1/Flickr

Dog Blink

Definition: If you notice blepharospasm in your dog or cat, what does it mean, and is it an emergency? Read this glossary entry to find out the meaning of this medical term.

Pronunciation Key: blef-ar-o-spazim

This condition is a rapid blinking of the eye due to involuntary contractions of the orbicularis oculi muscle of the eyelid.1 This is a quick type of spasm, sometimes appearing as if the eyelid is closed. The pet may also show tearing or other discharge from the eye, and be reluctant to look at bright lights in addition to the blepharospasm.

Blepharospasm is not a disease in and of itself; it is a clinical sign that something is wrong with the eye or eyelid in most cases. Some cases may involve only the fifth cranial nerve (Trigeminal nerve) or neither the eye or the Trigeminal nerve (essential blepharospasm)2

In most cases of blepharospasm seen in dogs and cats, the eye has been injured or infected. The eye is most often painful.

Please note:
Diseases of the eye can worsen quickly; it is important to see your veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice your pet squinting, showing tearing or other discharge, or experiencing blepharospasm of the eye(s).

1 blepharospasm. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary. Retrieved November 10, 2006, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/blepharospasm

2 Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, Twenty-sixth Edition.

Veterinary Glossary Index

Pronunciation: blef-ar-o-spazim
Also Known As: blinking, squinting
Common Misspellings: blefarospasm
Jane's dog was pawing at his right eye, and the blepharospasm and watery discharge made her realize that she should call her veterinarian right away.
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