Updated Dec. 2, 2019
Ocular myokymia, more commonly known as eyelid twitching, is characterized by contractions or twitching of the eyelids.
According to the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, eyelid twitching involves jumping of the eyelids. It can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few days, while in rare cases, people can experience it for weeks and months at a time. During an episode, it may feel as if the eyeball is twitching or shaking. However, it is rarely associated with movement of the eyeball. The condition can happen at any age and usually only in one eye at a time, though both can become involved. It usually affects the lower eyelid, but both can be affected.
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What Are the Causes of Eyelid Twitching?
For the most part, the causes of eyelid twitching are benign. They include:
- Lack of sleep
- Increased stress
- Increased intake of caffeine or other stimulants
- Dry eyes
- A combination of the mentioned factors
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Eyelid Twitch Causes for Concern
According to the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society, eyelid twitching is not typically associated with other neurological conditions.
In rare cases, however, they could be a cause for concern. Some more serious conditions include eye twitching as a symptom, including:
- Hemifacial spasm
- Bell’s palsy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Tourette’s disorder
What Are the Treatments for Eye Twitching?
Eyelid twitching can usually be resolved by making lifestyle changes. Those include:
- Reducing stress
- Getting more sleep
- Keeping your eyeballs lubricated with eye drops
- Reducing the intake of stimulants, such as caffeine
For severe cases, treatments include oral medications, injections such as Botox, and surgery.
When Should You See a Doctor?
A patient should consult a doctor when the eyelid and/or eyeball twitching persists longer than a few months and/or is associated with other symptoms such as double vision, weakness of eyelid closure and/or numbness, or tingling. Although these symptoms are rare, if they appear a patient should consult their doctor immediately.
To learn more about eye twitching or to schedule an appointment, visit the UPMC Eye Center or call 412-647-2200.
Sources reviewed for this article
American Academy of Family Physicians, Blepharospasm (https://familydoctor.org/condition/blepharospasm/)
American Academy for Ophthalmology, How to Stop Eye Twitching (https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/how-to-stop-eye-twitching)
American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Eyelid Spasms (https://www.asoprs.org/eyelid-spasms)
C. Robert Bernardino, MD, FACS, Review of Ophthalmology, How to Diagnose and Relieve Periocular Spasm (https://www.reviewofophthalmology.com/article/how-to-diagnose-and-relieve-periocular-spasm)
Risha Hertz, James Espinosa, Alan Lucerna, Doug Stranges, Case Reports in Neurological Medicine, Multiple Sclerosis Presenting with Facial Twitching (Myokymia and Hemifacial Spasms) (https://www.hindawi.com/journals/crinm/2017/7180560/)
National Health Service (UK), Twitching Eyes and Muscles (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/twitching-eyes-and-muscles/)
National Organization for Rare Disorders, Benign Essential Blepharospasm (https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/benign-essential-blepharospasm/(
North American Neuro-Opthalmology Society, Eyelid Myokomia (http://www.nanosweb.org/files/Patient%20Brochures/English/Eyelid%20myokymia.pdf)
About Eye Center
The UPMC Eye Center seeks to improve and restore your vision to help your quality of life. We offer a variety of services at our locations throughout western Pennsylvania. We diagnose and treat a wide range of vision disorders in both children and adults. We also offer routine eye screenings and have full-scale optical shops. Our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options.