Though they’re annoying, eye or eyelid twitches are very common and typically harmless. An eyelid twitch is a repetitive, involuntary spasm in the eyelid muscles known as blepharospasm. In most cases, twitches or spasms in the eyelid occur off and on, though some people may experience them for several days or weeks.
Eyelid twitching is usually benign and not the sign of a medical problem; however, it can be hard to treat. Sometimes the best way to stop an annoying eye twitch is to identify and deal with the cause of your eye or eyelid twitching. 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.
Causes and treatments of eyelid twitching
Most commonly, eyelid twitches are triggered by factors including:
- fatigue or lack of sleep
- eye or eyelid irritation
- dry eyes
- nutritional imbalances
- caffeine, tobacco or alcohol
- side effect of medication
If you have an annoying eye twitch, try getting more sleep, drinking less caffeine and keeping your eyes lubricated with over-the-counter artificial tears. Applying a warm compress to the eye can also help reduce eye or eyelid twitching.
In rare cases, eyelid spasms can be a warning sign of a chronic movement, brain or nerve disorder. These more serious conditions should be diagnosed and treated by an eye doctor.
When is an eye twitch something to worry about?
An eyelid twitch should be considered a medical emergency if it is accompanied by:
- red or swollen eyes
- unusual discharge
- eyelid drooping
- twitching in other parts of the face
- twitching that has continued for several weeks
Treating an eyelid twitch
Benign essential blepharospasm affects approximately 50,000 Americans. This eye condition can sometimes be treated with Botox injections, which 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, your may need surgery to remove some of the muscles and nerves in the eyelid.
If you are experiencing these symptoms and chronic eyelid spasms, schedule an appointment with your doctor to rule out any more serious conditions.