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Eyelid twitch

An eyelid twitch is a general term for spasms of the eyelid muscles that happen without your control. The eyelid may repeatedly close (or nearly close) and reopen. This article discusses eyelid twitches in general.

Alternative Names

Eyelid spasm; Eye twitch; Twitch - eyelid; Blepharospasm; Myokymia

Causes

The most common things that make the muscle in your eyelid twitch are fatigue, stress, and caffeine. Once spasms begin, they may continue off and on for a few days. Then, they disappear. Most people have this type of eyelid twitch once in a while and find it very annoying. In most cases, you won't even notice when the twitch has stopped.

More severe contractions, where the eyelid completely closes, are possible. These can be caused by irritation of the surface of the eye (cornea) or the membranes lining the eyelids (conjunctiva).

Sometimes, the reason your eyelid is twitching cannot be found. This form of eyelid twitching lasts much longer and is often very uncomfortable. It can also cause your eyelids to close completely.

Symptoms

  • Repeated uncontrollable twitching or spasms of your eyelid (most often the upper lid)
  • Light sensitivity (sometimes, this is the cause of the twitching)
  • Blurry vision (sometimes)

Treatment

Eyelid twitching most often goes away without treatment. In the meantime, the following steps may help:

  • Get more sleep.
  • Drink less caffeine.
  • Lubricate your eyes with eye drops.

If twitching is severe or lasts a long time, small injections of botulinum toxin can control the spasms.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outlook depends on the specific type or cause of eyelid twitch. In most cases, the twitches stop within a week.

Possible Complications

Permanent eye injury from unrecognized cornea injury is possible, but rare.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your primary care doctor or eye doctor (ophthalmologist or optometrist) if:

  • Eyelid twitching does not go away within 1 week.
  • Twitching completely closes your eyelid.
  • Twitching involves other parts of your face.
  • You have redness, swelling, or a discharge from your eye.
  • Your upper eyelid is drooping .

References

Faucett DC. Essential blepharospasm. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 12.8.

Prasad S, Galetta SL. The facial nerve. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol 2, chap 8.

Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 431.

Updated: 9/2/2014

Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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