BACKGROUND: A retrospective review of 239 patients with benign essential blepharospasm and Meige syndrome was performed in order to determine patients' long term treatment preferences. METHODS: Of 239 patients evaluated, 228 received local injections of botulinum toxin, type A, into the eyelid and facial musculature over 11 years. RESULTS: Of 228 patients, 202 (72.1%) were still treated with botulinum toxin, type A. Eighteen patients (6.9%) no longer received botulinum toxin injections and sought no other treatment. Five patients (2.2%) had apparent remission of their disease after injection. Three patients (1.3%) ultimately obtained relief from orbicularis muscle extirpative surgery and required no additional treatment. Two of the 11 patients (4.6%) who chose not to receive botulinum toxin injections were successfully treated with other modalities: psychotherapy (one patient) and oral haloperidol (one patient). CONCLUSION: While botulinum toxin is the most highly effective treatment for benign essential blepharospasm and Meige syndrome over a long period of time, adjunctive oral drug therapy, including minor tranquillisers as well as eyelid surgery, may augment its effectiveness.