Though annoying, eyelid twitches are a common and typically harmless
eye condition. An eyelid twitch (called blepharospasm) is a repetitive, involuntary
spasm in the eyelid muscles. In most cases, twitches or spasms in the
eyelid occur off and on, although some people may experience them for
several days or weeks.
Although eyelid twitching is usually benign and not a sign of a medical
problem, it can be hard to treat. Understanding the underlying cause of
the twitch is generally the best way to stop the annoying muscle spasms.
Causes and treatments of eyelid twitching
Most commonly, eyelid twitching is triggered by factors including:
- fatigue or lack of sleep
- eye or eyelid irritation
- caffeine, tobacco or alcohol
- side effect of medication
If you can determine the underlying cause of your eyelid twitch, such as
stress, and treat it appropriately, you should find relief from this pesky
condition. Getting more sleep, drinking less caffeine, keeping your eyes
lubricated with over-the-counter artificial tears and applying a warm
compress to the eye can all help reduce eyelid twitching.
In rare cases, eyelid spasms can be a warning sign of a chronic movement
disorder, brain or nerve disorder. These more serious conditions are typically
accompanied by other symptoms, such as other uncontrollable movements
or facial twitches, Bell’s palsy, Parkinson’s disease or Tourette syndrome.
An eyelid twitch should be considered a medical emergency if it is accompanied by:
• red or swollen eyes
• unusual discharge
• eyelid dropping
• twitching in other parts of the face
• twitching that has continued for several weeks
If you are experiencing these symptoms and chronic eyelid spasms, schedule
an appointment with your doctor.
Approximately 50,000 Americans are affected by benign essential blepharospasm,
or chronic and uncontrollable eyelid movement. Though the exact cause
of this condition is unknown, stress, fatigue, dry eyes, inflammation
of the eyelid, conjunctivitis and other factors can exacerbate symptoms.
Benign essential blepharospasm can sometimes be treated with
Botox injections. The injections work to ease muscle spasms. Botox treatment for an eyelid
twitch will usually wear off, requiring further injections. In severe
cases of chronic eyelid twitching, you may need surgery to remove some
of the muscles and nerves in the eyelid.
Preventing eyelid twitching
If you experience frequent eyelid twitching, keep a journal to note when
your eyelid twitches occur. Are you tired or stressed? Have you had too
much caffeine or alcohol? If you notice a correlation between your eyelid
twitch and stress, fatigue, or caffeine or alcohol consumption, make adjustments
in your lifestyle to help ease the condition.