Find out What Causes Your Eyelid to Twitch

Causes and Relief for the Common Eyelid Spasm

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Have you ever had an episode where one of your eyes has been twitching uncontrollably for a few days? An eye twitch, while annoying, is usually nothing serious. A twitching eye is a creepy sensation, as you can feel your eyelid moving uncontrollably. But what often feels like a huge movement to you usually can't even be detected by your friends. Find out what can cause this and how you can make it stop.

Common Causes of Eyelid Twitching

Eye twitching, or myokymia, is an involuntary eyelid muscle contraction that usually affects the lower eyelid. The exact cause of eye twitching is unknown. A twitch sometimes develops during times of increased stress. Eye twitching has also been associated with high caffeine intake, fatigue, or excessive squinting. It can also occur after reading or working on a computer for prolonged periods of time.

Eye twitching is usually a sign that you need to take a break and relax. Have you been under unusual stress lately? Have you had a few sleepless nights? Sometimes a twitch will go away following a good night's sleep, but a stubborn twitch may last as long as three weeks. Here are a few common eye twitch triggers:

  • Caffeine or certain medications
  • Fatigue due to lack of restful sleep
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Smoking or alcohol consumption
  • Eyestrain caused by computer use, reading, television, or bright lights
  • Dry eyes
  • Allergies
  • Eyelid twitches sometimes occur along with an eye infection or an inflammation of the eyelids called blepharitis.

Relief for Common Eye Twitches

The usual suggestions for a twitch not due to an eye infection are to cut back on caffeine, reduce your stress, and get some rest. But a stubborn eye twitch can become extremely annoying rather quickly.

To relieve eye twitching, try applying warm compresses to the twitching eye and gently massaging the eyelid with your fingers. A warm compress can simply be a clean washcloth dampened with warm water. Lay your head back and apply the warm cloth directly to your closed eyelid.​

For eyelid twitches that last longer than two or three days, over-the-counter oral or topical (eye drop) antihistamines may offer some relief. Although not a direct treatment, antihistamines slow down the muscle contractions (twitching), making them much less annoying.

Twitching in Both Eyes: Blepharospasm

If the eye twitching involves both eyes, there is a possibility that you have blepharospasm. This is a chronic condition that is most common in women over 50. Blepharospasm can progress into the repeated forceful closing of the eyes. Like most eye twitches, there is no definite cause, but it may be worsened by stress, bright lights, watching too much TV, and fatigue. If both eyes are twitching, it may be a good idea to consult your eye doctor for advice. This condition can be treated with botulinum toxin injections to relax the muscles and stop the spasms.

Violent Eye Twitching: Hemifacial Spasm

A more violent eye twitching that sometimes involves an entire side of the face is called hemifacial spasm.

A hemifacial spasm can become a much more severe twitch. This type of twitching may affect speaking and eating. A hemifacial spasm is usually caused by inflamed facial nerves but it may result from a more serious neurological problem. This type of spasm is often treated with muscle-relaxing injections or medications. If you are concerned that you may have more than a common eyelid twitch, contact an eye care professional for an evaluation.

Sources:

Benign Essential Blepharospasm Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Benign-Essential-Blepharospasm-Information-Page.

Boyd K. What Is an Eyelid Spasm or Twitching Eyelid? American Academy of Ophthalmology. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/eyelid-spasm-twitch.

Eye Twitching. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/eye-twitching/basics/causes/sym-20050838.

Involuntary Facial Movements (Hemifacial Spasm). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/involuntary-facial-movements.

The Best Strategies to Halt That Pesky Eye Twitch. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/04/best-strategies-halt-pesky-eye-twitch/.

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