Botulinum toxin is a medicine that has been used for many years to treat blepharospasm. The two main types are Botox® and Dysport®.  It also has other uses such as in facial palsy, corneal exposure and certain types of squint.

The treatment is well known to reduce the wrinkles in the skin such as frown lines and laughter lines (crow’s feet) and is therefore used in a cosmetic context.

Botulinum toxin is a neurotoxin that weakens the muscle in to which it is injected. It acts be blocking the communication between the nerve and the muscle.

Botulinum toxin is given as an injection in the clinic room using a very fine needle. Small volumes are injected beneath the skin to the specific muscles around the eye and face that need treatment. We often advise the use of ice packs after treatments to prevent bruising and minimise pain.

Typically depending on the type of botulinum toxin used (Botox® vs Dysport®) the effects will be seen after about 3 days.

The side effects of Botox® or Dysport® are:

  • You may develop some subtle redness around the area of the injection and occasionally some bruising which is quite common.

Rare complications include

  • A squint with double vision
  • Drooping of the face
  • Drooping of the upper eyelid
  • Blurred vision

Very rare complications include:

  • A change in your voice
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Difficulty swallowing

Please note: This list does not include all the possible complications of using botulinum toxin.

Each individual responds differently and injections are needed as often as is necessary. For the majority of patients this is every 2-3 months but the interval between treatments can be up as long as 6-12 months.

Please refer to the emergency contact page (under the header ‘Contact’) if you need advice or have a problem.

Author: Mr Jonathan Norris FRCOphth