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Eye Twitch

An eyelid twitch, or myokymia, is a repetitive, involuntary spasm of the eyelid muscles. A twitch usually occurs in the upper lid, but it can occur in both the upper and lower lids.

For most people, these spasms are very mild and feel like a gentle tug on the eyelid.

Others may experience a spasm strong enough to force both eyelids to close completely. This is a different condition called blepharospasm.

Spasms typically occur every few seconds for a minute or two.

Episodes of eyelid twitching are unpredictable. The twitch may occur off and on for several days. Then, you may not experience any twitching for weeks or even months.

The twitches are painless and harmless, but they may bother you. Most spasms will resolve on their own without the need for treatment.

In rare cases, eyelid spasms may be an early warning sign of a chronic movement disorder, especially if the spasms are accompanied by other facial twitches or uncontrollable movements.

CAUSES

Eyelid spasms may occur without any identifiable cause. Since they’re rarely a sign of a serious problem, the cause isn’t usually investigated.

Nevertheless, eyelid twitches may be caused or made worse by:

eye irritation

eyelid strain

fatigue

lack of sleep

physical exertion

medication side effects

stress

use of alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine

If the spasms become chronic, you may have what’s known as “benign essential blepharospasm,” which is the name for chronic and uncontrollable winking or blinking.

This condition typically affects both eyes. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, but the following may make spasms worse

blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelid

conjunctivitis, or pinkeye

dry eyes

environmental irritants, such as wind, bright lights, sun, or air pollution

fatigue

light sensitivity

stress

too much alcohol or caffeine

smoking

Benign essential blepharospasm is more common in women than in men.

According to Genetics Home Reference, it affects approximately 50,000 Americans and usually develops in middle to late adulthood.

The condition will likely worsen over time, and it may eventually cause:

blurry vision

increased sensitivity to light

facial spasms

Complications

Very rarely, eyelid spasms are a symptom of a more serious brain or nerve disorder.

When eyelid twitches are a result of these more serious conditions, they’re almost always accompanied by other symptoms.

Brain and nerve disorders that may cause eyelid twitches include:

Bell’s palsy (facial palsy), which is a condition that causes one side of your face to droop downward

dystonia, which causes unexpected muscle spasms and the affected area’s body part to twist or contort

cervical dystonia (spasmodic torticollis), which causes the neck to randomly spasm and the head to twist into uncomfortable positions

multiple sclerosis (MS), which is a disease of the central nervous system that causes cognitive and movement problems, as well as fatigue

Parkinson’s disease, which can cause trembling limbs, muscle stiffness, balance problems, and difficulty speaking

Tourette syndrome, which is characterized by involuntary movement and verbal tics

Undiagnosed corneal scratches can also cause eyelid twitches.

If you think you have an eye injury, see your optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately. Corneal scratches can cause permanent eye damage.

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