eye twitching

Updated December 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.

John Swogger, DO, an ophthalmologist at UPMC Eye Center, further explains the causes and treatments of eyelid twitching.

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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
  • Medication
  • Alcohol
  • Allergies
  • A combination of the mentioned factors

RELATED: Infographic: 6 Common Sleep Disorders

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:

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.

Blepharospasm. American Academy of Family Physicians. How to Stop Eye Twitching. American Academy for Ophthalmology. Eyelid Spasms. American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. C. Robert Bernardino, MD FACS. How to Diagnose and Relieve Periocular Spasm. Review of Ophthalmology. Risha Hertz, James Espinosa, Alan Lucerna, Doug Stranges. Multiple Sclerosis Presenting with Facial Twitching (Myokymia and Hemifacial Spasms). Case Reports in Neurological Medicine. Twitching Eyes and Muscles. National Health Service (UK). Benign Essential Blepharospasm. National Organization for Rare Disorders.

About Eye Center

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