What is Meige syndrome?

Meige syndrome is a rare movement disorder in which a person has involuntary and irregular movements involving contractions of the muscles responsible for eyelid opening, lower face, and jaw. These contractions can be forceful and often painful. In addition, muscles around the eyes spasm, called blepharospasm. The term “blepharospasm” is used with Meige syndrome often and it means eyelid closure from spasms of the muscles closing the eyelid.

Other names for Meige syndrome are:

  • Brueghel syndrome
  • Idiopathic bleparospasm-oromandibular dystonia syndrome
  • Segmental cranial dystonia (dystonia is the medical term for a group of movement disorders that vary in their symptoms, causes, and progression)

Who is most likely to have Meige syndrome?

Women are more likely than men to get Meige syndrome.

What are the symptoms of Meige syndrome?

Blepharospasm, or forced or frequent blinking or twitching, sometimes happens in response to bright lights, fatigue, wind or air pollution, or tension. Blepharospasm may first affect only one eye, but will affect both eventually.

Over time, the muscle spasms and contractions may happen more often, and cause your eyelids to close, making it harder to keep your eyes open. Patients with Meige syndrome can essentially become blind since their eyes are closed, but vision is unaffected. People with Meige syndrome may have dry eyes.

Oromandibular dystonia, another symptom of Meige syndrome, is a term that means forced contractions of the jaw and tongue, making it difficult to open or close your mouth. A clenched mouth and teeth grinding can also occur. Other symptoms related to the jaw can be:

  • Facial grimacing
  • Frowning
  • Thrusting of the chin
  • Displaced jaw
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Headaches

Spasms can also occur in the tongue, throat, and respiratory tract. Spasms in the respiratory tract can make breathing difficult.

What causes Meige syndrome?

Its cause is unknown. Several genetic and environmental factors may be involved. Some researchers have suggested that a fault in a region of the brain known as the basal ganglia may be involved in Meige syndrome. This portion of the brain controls and coordinates motor and learning functions.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/20/2015.


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