Eyelid twitches are common and may have different causes, such as eye irritation, strain, or lack of sleep. Severe or persistent twitching may be a sign of an underlying health condition that requires treatment.
An eyelid twitch or contraction is a repetitive and involuntary spasm of the eyelid muscles.
Eyelid twitches typically occur in unpredictable periods lasting between a few seconds and hours. Chronic twitching could last for a few days or weeks.
Most twitches are painless, harmless, and will resolve without medical intervention.
In rare cases, eyelid spasms may be an early warning sign of a chronic movement disorder, especially if other facial tics or uncontrollable movements accompany the spasms.
Eyelid twitches may be classified into three types based on frequency, severity, and underlying causes.
They typically feel like gentle, mild tugs. But you could also experience occasional spasms that force the upper and lower lids shut.
These contractions may occur due to several environmental factors and generally disappear with rest.
That said, if these twitches are persistent and disrupt your life, consult a healthcare professional. They may be a sign of an underlying condition.
Benign essential blepharospasm
The condition typically peaks between ages 50-70. It may worsen over time and potentially cause:
- blurry vision
- increased sensitivity to light
- facial spasms
Eyelid twitches that affect only one eye may be a sign of hemifacial spasm. This is a neuromuscular disorder usually caused by a blood vessel putting excess pressure on one of your facial nerves.
It typically starts with episodic twitching of one eyelid. Gradually, the spasms may lead to one eye closing and the mouth being pulled to one side.
Eventually, hemifacial spasms might affect all muscles on one side of the face.
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The most common causes of eyelid twitching include:
Other triggers and causes of eyelid twitching include:
- eye irritation, strain, or corneal abrasion
- dry eyes
- environmental irritants, such as wind, bright lights, or air pollution
- multiple sclerosis
- alcohol consumption
- smoking or exposure to tobacco
- medications, such as topiramate, clozapine, and flunarizine
- light sensitivity
- swelling of the middle layer of your eye (uveitis)
- inflammation of your eyelid (blepharitis)
- pinkeye (conjunctivitis)
- migraine episodes
Eyelid twitches are common and rarely require emergency medical treatment.
But chronic eyelid spasms can be a symptom of a more serious brain or nervous system disorder, such as:
- Bell’s palsy (facial palsy)
- spasmodic torticollis
- multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Tourette syndrome
Consult a healthcare professional if you’re having chronic eyelid spasms alongside any of the following symptoms:
- Your eye is red, swollen, or has an unusual discharge.
- Your upper eyelid is drooping.
- Your eyelid completely closes each time it twitches.
- The twitching continues for several weeks.
- The twitching affects other parts of your face
If you think you may have an eye injury, contact an optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately. Corneal scratches can cause permanent eye damage.
Most eyelid spasms go away without treatment within a few days.
If they don’t go away, you could try to eliminate or decrease potential causes by:
- drinking less caffeine
- getting adequate sleep
- keeping your eyes lubricated with over-the-counter artificial tears or eye drops
- applying a warm compress to your eyes when a spasm begins
If your eye twitching is persistent and disrupts your daily life, consult a healthcare professional. They may prescribe antibiotics or recommend other treatments.
Botox injections are used to help treat benign essential blepharospasm. It may ease severe spasms for a few months. But, as the effects of the injection wear off, you may need further injections.
For more severe cases of benign essential blepharospasm, surgery may be needed to remove some of the muscles and nerves in the eyelids (myectomy).
If your eyelid spasms are happening more frequently, try keeping a log of your symptoms. Note down when your spasms occur, along with your:
- caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol intake
- level of stress
- quantity of sleep
If you notice that you have more spasms when you aren’t getting enough sleep, try going to bed 30 minutes to an hour earlier to help ease the strain on your eyes and reduce your spasms.
Can eyelid twitching be serious?
Eyelid twitching is common and isn’t typically a cause for concern.
But if eyelid twitching persists for over a week or is accompanied by other symptoms, like drooping, consult a healthcare professional. This could indicate a more serious brain or nervous system disorder.
Do brain tumors cause eye twitching?
Although brain tumors are rarely associated with eyelid twitching, unusual vision changes or a complete loss of vision are possible. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
An eye doctor can help determine the underlying cause and advise you on any next steps.
Does increased screen time cause eye twitching?
Increased screen time is one of the many causes of eyestrain. Eyestrain can, in turn, cause eyelid twitching, dryness, and other discomfort.
What vitamin or mineral deficiency causes eye twitching?
Magnesium deficiency is known to cause muscle contractions, so it’s possible that this could include eyelid twitching.
Calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D deficiencies are often touted as potential triggers for eye twitching. However, this isn’t supported by current research.
A healthcare professional can test your levels of various vitamins and minerals to determine whether you’re experiencing a deficiency. They can also recommend appropriate dietary changes, including potential supplements.
Eyelid twitches can have many causes, though they’re rarely cause for concern.
If your eyelid contractions are constant and don’t go away, contact a healthcare professional. The twitching may be a sign of an underlying condition.
Treatments, prevention strategies, and outlooks vary from person to person. But twitching related to stress, lack of sleep, and other lifestyle factors have the best outlook.