When your eye jumps?

Eight reasons for eye twitching: What causes Myokymia?

Eye Care

By All About Vision

Eye twitching, also known as eyelid twitching, is a very common eye condition. These annoying twitches usually affect only the lower eyelid of one eye, but the upper eyelid also can twitch.

Most eye twitches don’t affect you for long, but sometimes a twitching eye can last for weeks or even months.

Almost all eye twitching is harmless. But if an eye twitch persists, it could signal a serious neurological condition that should be diagnosed and treated by an eye doctor.

What causes eyelid twitching?

Triggers of eye twitching can include:

  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Eye strain
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Dry eyes
  • Nutrition problems
  • Allergies

Sometimes, just making minor changes to your diet and lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of eye twitching or help make an eyelid twitch disappear.

When your eyelid is twitching, you might think everyone else can see it. But most eye twitches are subtle and are not easily seen by others.

Why does my eye twitch — and what can I do about it?

1. Stress

Stress is probably the most common cause of eye twitching. Yoga, breathing exercises, spending time with friends or pets and getting more breaks in your schedule are ways to reduce stress that may be causing your eyelid twitch.

2. Fatigue

Lack of sleep, whether because of stress or some other reason, can trigger a twitching eyelid. Having a consistent 6-8 hours of sleep every night can help a lot.

3. Eye strain

Eye strain (digital eye strain) from overuse of computers, tablets and smartphones is also a common cause of eyelid twitching.

Taking regular breaks from your digital devices reduces the fatigue that may trigger eye twitching. Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and allow your eyes to focus on a distant object for 20 seconds or longer.

Also, ask your eye doctor about computer eyeglasses to relieve digital eye strain.

4. Caffeine

Too much caffeine can trigger eye twitching. Try reducing the consumption of coffee, tea, chocolate and soft drinks (or switch to decaffeinated versions) for a week or two and see if your eye twitching disappears.

5. Alcohol

If you experience eye twitching after drinking beer, wine or liquor, try abstaining for a while and your eyelid twitching may stop.

6. Dry eyes

Many adults experience dry eyes, which can cause eyelid twitching. Dry eyes also are common among people over age 50 and those who use computers, take certain medications (antihistamines or antidepressants, for example), wear contact lenses and consume caffeine and/or alcohol.

If you have a twitching eyelid and your eyes feel gritty or dry, see your eye doctor for a dry eye evaluation. Restoring moisture to the surface of your eye may stop the twitch and decrease the risk of twitching in the future.

7. Nutrition problems

Some reports suggest a lack of certain nutritional substances, such as magnesium, can trigger eyelid spasms.

If you are concerned that your diet may not be supplying all the nutrients you need, raise this issue with your family doctor. Expert advice is better than randomly buying nutritional products.

8. Allergies

Allergies can be the cause of itching, swelling and watery eyes. When eyes are rubbed, this releases histamine into the lid tissues and the tears, which may cause eyelid twitching.

To stop eye twitching caused by allergies, some eye doctors have recommended antihistamine eye drops or tablets, but antihistamines also can cause dry eyes. Consult your eye doctor about which treatment is best to end your eye twitching.

In most cases, eye twitching is a temporary issue. If the twitching continues, consult with your eye doctor, who can suggest the best treatment.

See your eye doctor immediately if the twitching or abnormal movements affect half of your face as well as your eyelid, or if both eyelids clamp down tight so it’s impossible to open your eyes. These can be signs of a serious condition.

Worried about your eye twitching?

Make an appointment to see an eye doctor near you.

Page updated September 2018

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Emily Bedrick Graubart, MD: I’m sure we’ve all looked in the mirror and seen our upper and lower lid kind of quivering from time to time.
Ted Wonjo, MD: And you can feel a little jiggling of the muscle in the eyelid…Those are temporary, self-limited and mean nothing.
Emily Bedrick Graubart, MD: There are several different things that can cause eyelid twitches. Anything that irritates the eye like a dry-eye syndrome or blepharitis, which means inflammation of the eyelids as well as external factors like stress, fatigue, alcohol intake, caffeine intake, all of these things can exacerbate lid twitching.
: I think if you have eyelid twitching that’s lasting longer than a day, it’s reasonable to call a physician and get an appointment. For a new patient with this complaint of eyelid twitching, I would do a complete eye exam, but especially pay attention to the ocular surface and the eyelids to see if there’s any cause that I can quickly identify.
Patient: “I have dry eye too”
: Somebody has an aggravating factor like dry-eye or blepharitis, and we try to educate the patient on how to treat those symptoms and conditions so that they don’t aggravate the lid twitching. I tell people to lubricate their eyes with over-the-counter artificial tears. If they’re putting them in every hour, then I’d like them to use a preservative free artificial tear, cool compresses, warm compresses, whatever they feel is most comfortable to them is also helpful. And then, if they do have blepharitis or the inflammation of the eyelids and we like to treat that with lid scrubs which are also available over-the-counter.
: And then of course, if they’re having a lot of caffeine intake or smoking or drinking excessively, we try to kind of eliminate those aspects as well…
Dr. Wonjo to patient: Hi Miss Knowlin, how are you?
Emily Bedrick Graubart, MD: And in a very small percentage of the population, there’s a condition called Benign Essential Blepharospasm. Those are lid twitches that do not go away and they get worse.
Ted Wonjo, MD: And by twitch, we’re talking about a forceful involuntary contraction of the eyelids to the point where the patients are functionally blind. They cannot open their eyes.
Emily Bedrick Graubart, MD: The cause is unknown. It’s thought to be due to some disorder of the basal ganglia which is in our brain and the basal ganglia controls movement. And so, this is almost like some sort of a movement disorder.
Ted Wonjo, MD: The majority of twitches are simply just that, an involuntary isolated twitch in just one little muscle.
Emily Bedrick Graubart, MD: And it’s a benign condition and often reassuring the patient is, you know, really all that’s needed.

Does Your Eye Twitch Frequently? You Could Have This Nutrient Deficiency

Have you ever experienced those mild yet weird spasms in your eyelids? It’s called eye-twitching – the repetitive fluctuations that cause irritation and seem unending. The superstitions surrounding it are even more interesting- if your left eye twitches, it suggests a bad omen and if the right eye twitches, it signifies good luck. Well, we aren’t sure of the omens, we can tell you that regular twitching of eyes could indicate a nutrient deficiency. Eye twitching is not a voluntary bodily function and is also known as Myokymia – characterized by involuntary twitching of the eyelid muscles.

Myokymia or eye twitching can occur because of stress, tiredness, strain in the eyes, excessive alcohol consumption, dry eyes or allergies. According to Consultant Nutritionist Dr. Rupali Dutta, “Eye twitching can be caused due to a B12 deficiency which may occur as a result of excessive alcohol consumption, or an imbalance in electrolytes sodium and potassium. Eye twitching may also occur due to excessive loss of fluids or dehydration.”
Can nutrient deficiency be the cause?

While a lack of B12 vitamin in the body can be one of the causes of eyelid spasms and can magnesium deficiency. According to a study published in Neurology India, eye twitching and vitamin B12 deficiency may be correlated. However, the study also mentions that the possibilities remain a bit unclear. Similarly, magnesium does play an essential role in the functioning of cells, tissues and organs throughout the body and therefore, experiencing eyelid spasms may be related to deficiency of magnesium in the body.

Eye twitching and vitamin B12 deficiency may be correlated​

Possible treatment for twitching eye

  • Consume less caffeine
  • Get enough sleep
  • Don’t let your eyes dry out
  • Apply a warm compress on your eyes when the spasm starts

How to treat nutrient deficiencies

B12 vitamin deficiency: A deficiency in the B12 vitamin can lead to muscle weakness and vision problems in the long run. Load up on B12 rich foods that may include red meat, milk, chicken, eggs and salmon.

Magnesium deficiency: Magnesium is an important micro-nutrient that ensures proper functioning of all the muscles in the body. Eye twitching can be a sign of lack of magnesium in the body. Consume magnesium rich-foods like green leafy vegetables, bananas, yogurt, avocados, dried fruits, pumpkin seeds and beans to get your daily dose.

Ideally, eye twitching should not sustain for more than a week. However, if it causes other problems than just slight spasms that may include redness, swollen eyes or pain, refer to your doctor immediately.

How Is It Treated?

In most cases, a minor twitch will go away on its own. Make sure you get enough rest and cut back on alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine.

If dry eyes or irritated eyes are the cause, try over-the-counter artificial tears. That can often ease a minor twitch.

So far, doctors haven’t found a cure for benign essential blepharospasm. But several treatment options can make it less severe.

The most widely used treatment is botulinum toxin (Botox, Dysport, Xeomin). It’s also often used with a hemifacial spasm.

A doctor will inject small amounts into your eye muscles to ease the spasms. The effect lasts a few months before it slowly wears off. You’ll need repeat treatments.

In mild cases, your doctor might suggest medications like:

  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Trihexyphenidyl hydrochloride (Artane, Trihexane, Tritane)

These usually provide only short-term relief.

Alternative treatments include:

  • Biofeedback
  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnosis
  • Chiropractic
  • Nutrition therapy
  • Tinted glasses

Scientific studies haven’t proven these treatments work.

If other options fail, your doctor may suggest surgery. In a procedure called a myectomy, your surgeon will remove some of the muscles and nerves around your eyelid.

Surgery can also relieve the pressure of the artery on your facial nerve that causes a hemifacial spasm. The results are permanent, but as with any operation there’s a chance for complications.

What’s Causing Your Eyelid Twitch?

No one knows exactly why these may trigger a twitch, but there are theories. Stress, for example, leads to muscle tension almost as a reflex reaction, note American Psychological Association experts, and prolonged muscle tension can lead to muscle twitching. Caffeine prompts a surge in excitatory hormones that can give you the jitters overall by increasing reactivity in muscles and nerves — including those in your eyelid — suggests a study in The Journal of Physiology.

Other known triggers of eyelid twitches, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Alcohol intake
  • Bright light
  • Dry eye
  • Eye irritation on the eye surface or inner eyelid, such as from allergens
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Too much caffeine
  • Wind, or air pollution

In rare cases, a twitching eye may be an early sign of a neurological disorder, such as blepharospasm (an abnormal blinking or spasm of the eyelids), according to the AAO.

What Your Eye Doctor Will Look For

If your eyelid twitch does not go away in a week or if symptoms worsen, you should be evaluated by an eye doctor. Your doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam to rule out eye diseases and conditions, such as dry eye. He or she will also check for other symptoms that may be accompanying the twitching eyelid, such as sensitivity to light or twitching that involves other facial muscles.

How Twitching Eyelids Are Treated

In most cases, a minor eyelid twitch does not require treatment, says Dr. Martinez. In fact, in some instances just going to the eye doctor for an evaluation can alleviate symptoms. “Doing a full eye exam can almost have a placebo-like effect,” he says.

The best self-care is reducing stress, getting more sleep, and cutting down on your caffeine intake. “You can also try warm compresses to relax the muscles around the eyes,” suggests Martinez.

However, if the twitching persists, see your doctor. He or she may offer you Botox (botulinumtoxinA) injections to temporarily relax the muscles or nerves that are causing the spasms. The injections, which involve very tiny amounts of Botox, work for several months and may need to be repeated three or four times a year, per the University of Michigan W. K. Kellogg Eye Center. Surgical options — removing or cutting some of the muscles and nerves of the eyelids — may also be recommended to relieve persistent eyelid twitching, note AAO experts.

Why does my eyelid twitch?

Published: April, 2014

Q. I have started to notice a constant twitching under my right eyelid. It appears during the day and often lasts for hours. I was told not to be concerned, but is it possible to fix this problem?

A. Involuntary eyelid twitching, often in the lower lid, is common and referred to as eyelid myokymia. These tiny contractions of the muscle are more noticeable because of the small size of the muscle and its location near the eye. There is no serious underlying problem in most cases. The most common things that trigger eyelid twitching are stress, caffeine, and lack of sleep. Reducing those triggers often eliminates the twitching.

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Ed Note: Our foray into the spooky and superstitious continues with this look at a popular West Indian belief. This post originally appeared on AiP on October 25, 2010—and it was selected as a ResearchBlogging Editor’s Selection!

Trinidadians have a rich collection of superstitions, many of which found their way to the island via colonialism. These beliefs reflect the ways ideas and explanations have been blended here—and elsewhere—in the face of globalization. There is one, however, that I have grown up with that seems unique to Trinidadians. It concerns an involuntary eye spasm known colloquially as when your eye “jumps”—or twitches without warning or reason. The superstition has multiple parts and meanings depending on which eye is affected:

  • If your right eye jumps, you are going to hear good news. If your left eye jumps, you are going to hear bad news (Roberts 1927: 161).
  • If your right eye jumps, someone is speaking well of you. If your left eye jumps, someone is saying bad things about you.* (If you think of the name of people you know, when you name the right person—who is speaking badly about you—your eye will stop jumping.) (Roberts 1927: 161)
  • If your right eye jumps, you’ll see someone you haven’t seen in a long time.
  • If your left eye jumps, a loved one/friend is doing something behind your back.
  • If your left eye jumps, a love one/friend may be in trouble.

*There seems to be some confusion with this particular version of the superstition since I have also seen/heard it reverse (i.e., right eye = someone speaking ill of you). It is included here in the parallel form to match the other suggestions.)

There are additional variations to this theme, but all emphasize the dichotomy between the left and right eye in relation to bad versus good events. The eye has long figured in superstitious lore—for example, the idea of the “evil eye” may date to 600 BC, and since this only marks documented reference to the belief, it may in fact be older than that. As a source of vision, awareness, and knowledge, it is no surprise that beliefs relating to the eye tend to suggest a forewarning.

Superstitions are often met with a certain degree of scorn. Rational folks are often quick to dismiss them. But still they lurk in the background until the opportunity arrives when they can suggest a potential “What if?” Historically, when discussing superstitions, scholars (e.g., Matthews 1945; Roberts 1927) have categorized them as “primitive” beliefs of “simple” people, and overlooked the insights they may offer on the way people view the world. While many superstitions have religious or supernatural undertones, many others offer interesting observations on life in a particular location. And if you dig deep enough, there are sometimes suggestive details that can explain why some superstitions persist.

For example, in a collection of West Indian beliefs and superstitions Basil Matthews (1945) discusses the Caniteel in Trinidad: a particular hour on a particular day between July 15th and August 15th during which any plants planted will fail to grow (141). No one knows for sure when the day or the hour actually occurs. What they do know is that generally what happens is that during this period worms eat the heart of the plant. Trinidadian farmers view this period as a bad time. Many avoid planting on July 15th, and then plant on alternate days hoping to avoid the Caniteel. Some avoid planting altogether during this period. The farmers have connected a real event (the activity of the worms) with a superstition (don’t plant, this period is bad).

The same may be the case for eye jumping. The phenomena is largely harmless, but appears to be poorly understood by science. It is officially classified as benign essential blepharospasm (BEB), a phenomenon that can be disruptive in severe cases causing functional blindness:

The condition is progressive with the early symptoms being irritation and discomfort in the eyelids causing an increase in the blink rate, which can progress over time to frequent, forceful involuntary and uncontrollable closure of the eyelids (Kowal et. al. 1998: 123).

The condition is idiographic, but researchers believe that it may be linked in part to fatigue, stress, eyestrain, and/or caffeine (Robb-Nicholson 2010: 8). In a health column in the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, Dr. Celeste Robb-Nicholson advises a writer of ways to cope with “eyelid twitching”:

There are several things you can do to ease the spasms. Close the eye and apply a warm compress—or try pulling gently on the lid. Get more sleep, and reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake. If the twitching occurs while you’re reading or using a computer, relax your eyes occasionally by focusing on something in the distance. If your eyes are dry or irritated, use lubricant eyedrops (8).

Even in the less severe form, eye jumping can still be disruptive (or at the very least, irritating), marked by a fluttering sensation in the eyelid, twitching of the eye, or the repeated closing and reopening of the eyelid. And it can last anywhere from minutes to hours or can occur intermittently over the course of several days. Perhaps its disruptiveness has contributed to its role in superstition. Let’s consider the following:

  • Eye jumping may be caused by stress in some form.
  • Because it is disruptive, it is memorable.
  • When a negative or otherwise anticipated event occurs following an eye jumping episode, it can be easily connected to eye jumping because the phenomenon sticks in the mind of the afflicted.

Since Trinidadians appear to follow the traditional notions of right = good, left = bad, it may be that they are selecting events following experiences of stress that match the eye afflicted by BEB. So for example, if they are anticipating speaking to a relative who has missed a telephone call, the anticipation may turn to worry and as a result experience BEB as a stress response. When the relative finally calls, the afflicted person may recall that their eye jumped and connect the two. This may also explain the fluidity between assigning events to the eyes. While Trinis largely follow the right/left dichotomy, they have been known to blur the line and simply say “My eye was jumping.” It may also be that events that can be tied to the afflicted eye are more readily remembered. Similar to the Caniteel, Trinidadians have connected a real event (BEB) with a superstition (the eye afflicted by BEB can predict or warn of events).

Superstitions, however you view them, can be a source of comfort. They offer a way to take control of a situation and in this case to reaffirm ties—note that the eye jumping superstition is connected to loved ones. They can become deeply ingrained. When my eye jumps, I’m inclined to tell myself quite seriously to just “quit it.” Meaning, quit worrying about it. I know that my stress levels are generally elevated when my eye jumps, but invariably, when the phenomenon persists, it opens the door for “What if.” The event in itself also adds to my stress levels, creating a nagging sensation of worry that I refuse to openly acknowledge but seem to acknowledge in small ways. For example, my behavior changes slightly. I might call loved ones more frequently. And if I happen to learn of an event that occurred to one of them in this period, I find myself wondering about which eye the was afflicted. Superstitions are persistent. It’s one of the reasons they’ve survived time and travel.

Do you have a family superstition that crops up from time to time? Something your grandparents or parents said or did continuously? Something that you yourself came to believe for no explicable reason? With Halloween just around the corner, let’s open the vaults and see what’s lurking in the shadows of our minds.

Referenced:

Roberts, H. (1927). Louisiana Superstitions The Journal of American Folklore, 40 (156) DOI: 10.2307/534893

5 Spiritual Meanings of Eye Twitching

Wondering what it means when your eye twitches?

I did, too!

So I went on a journey to find out why my eye kept twitching and was shocked to discover the spiritual meaning.

In fact, I learned that a left or right eye twitch can mean completely different things!

Ready to find out what it means when your eye jumps or spasms?

Let’s get started!

Related: What Does it Mean When Your Hand Itches?

What Does it Mean When Your Right Eye Twitches?

Superstitions around the world say that when your right eye twitches it’s a good sign. This is supported in the Bible as well, which says that eyes are a window to your soul:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22).

So when your upper or lower eyelid starts twitching here’s what it means:

You Have Unused Creative Potential

If your right eye jumps or twitches this is a sign that you are a very creative person. You likely have much-unused potential inside you.

You are full of light and express your unique personality in everything you do. A look around your living room might reveal your hobbies or artistic talents.

Your friends or coworkers might comment on the beautiful clothes and vibrant colors you wear.

However, you have yet to find a way to express this creativity in your career. You would like to start a side business that gives you more freedom to pursue your passions.

When your right eye twitches, this might be a sign to follow your heart.

You Have Big Dreams or Goals

Your right eye might start twitching when you have a big goal you are working towards. What’s so special about this spiritual message is that you might not have told anyone about this specific plan or dream, yet.

How amazing is that?

This could be a sign that you need to share your dream with the world, rather than keeping it a secret.

You might be dreaming about helping others, starting a family, or buying a new home.

However, there is currently an obstacle in your way that is keeping you from your dream. These roadblocks are making your dreams seem impossible.

When you feel like you aren’t making progress towards your goals, remember that God has a plan for you.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

You Are Very Intelligent

The fact that your right eye twitches tells me that you are very intelligent. This is often the case for people that have high IQ’s or have various college degrees.

You often think about things differently than most people. New concepts and ideas come easily to you. These talents may have led you to consider a career as a teacher or trainer.

While you enjoy sharing what you know with others, you also realize that sometimes it’s best to keep certain things to yourself.

You have come to learn that knowledge is power. Sadly, this power can be used for both good and evil. So you are careful when sharing your ideas with people not in your inner circle of friends.

Armed with your vast knowledge, it makes wonder how so many unqualified people are given opportunities before you.

If only you were given more responsibility, you might be able to change the world for the better. However, most people don’t think the same way you do.

Other people around you are trying to take less responsibility, not more. This burden likely causes you much stress or anxiety.

When your right eye twitches, take a moment to pray for God’s guidance in your life.

What Does it Mean When Your Left Eye Twitches?

Left eye twitching is often thought to be an omen of bad news. While there are many different superstitions around the world about eye twitching, the bible reveals the true meaning.

Eye twitching or winking can be a sign of evil intentions. For example, Proverbs 6:12-13 says, “A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart—he always stirs up conflict. Therefore, disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.”

With this in mind, here’s what it means when your left eye starts twitching:

You Are Thinking About The Past

When your left eye twitches, this could be a sign that you are worried about the past.

No matter what you do, you can’t seem to forgive or forget someone from your past.

Their words or actions caused you so much pain, that you are not ready to move on. Forgiveness doesn’t seem like an option.

The Bible reminds us that left eye jumping is a sign that we are behaving unacceptably: “Whoever winks with their eye is plotting perversity; whoever purses their lips is bent on evil” (Proverbs 16:30 NIV).

Your thoughts about the past are causing you to act stubborn, or difficult. At the moment you are unwilling to forgive others for the pain they’ve caused you.

Eye twitching might be a reminder to have an open heart and stop feeling resentful towards those that have hurt you.

Consider saying a prayer for those that have wronged you and let God take matters into his own hands.

You Care Deeply About What Others Think

You often second guess your decisions because you worry what others might think of you. You don’t like disappointing others.

This is difficult for you to deal with since you spend so much of your time and energy trying to help others instead of yourself.

You might even wonder how your life might be different if you had focused more on yourself instead of sacrificing for those you love.

Many times throughout your life you’ve passed on financial opportunities and given them to someone more deserving.

So when someone makes a hurtful comment about you, it really stings. They don’t realize that you spend so much time thinking positive thoughts about other people.

Psalm 35:19 says, “Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause.”

If your left eye is twitching this could be a message from God to stop worrying about the people that dislike you for no reason.

Focus on shining your light for others and bringing glory to God through your actions.

What Causes Eye Twitching?

Eye twitching is simply the result of involuntary and repetitive eyelid muscle contractions. The medical term for eye twitching is called myokymia.

While the cause is unknown, several factors are known to trigger eye spasms.

You might experience eye twitching if you are currently dealing with stress, lack of sleep, or using stimulants such as caffeine or tobacco.

Common Causes of Eye Twitching:

  • Dry Eyes
  • Eye Irritation
  • Scratched Cornea
  • Fatigue
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Allergies
  • Stress

Although eye twitching is typically harmless, it can still be irritating. One way to stop eye twitching is to use eye drops to keep your eyes hydrated.

If you are experiencing eye twitching often, try to reduce stress in your life and take care of your health. Consider getting more sleep and stay away from caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, or Red Bull.

You can also try putting a warm washcloth over your eyes when your eyelid starts jumping or twitching.

Now It’s Your Turn

And now I’d like to hear from you.

Does your left or right eye twitch?

What do you think it means when your eye twitches?

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

There’s nothing worse than trying to focus during the day with a pesky eye twitch that won’t stop flickering. You know what we mean — that repetitive, involuntary spasm of your eyelid muscle that occurs every few seconds for a minute or two.

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An eye twitch can be unpredictable. It may last for several days or even longer. It may occur off and on for several days. Then you may not experience any twitching for weeks or even months.

An eye twitch doesn’t hurt, but it sure is annoying. But could it be a sign of a more serious problem?

More annoying than harmful

Eye twitches are common and usually, they aren’t anything to worry about, says oculofacial plastic surgeon, Julian D. Perry, MD. Most of the time, an eye spasm will resolve on its own without any need for medical treatment.

“Many patients worry this may represent a neurologic problem. They worry that something serious is going on, but that’s rarely the case,” Dr. Perry says.

“Several things can cause one or both eyes to twitch and they can last for days to weeks, which can be very frustrating,” he says. “But these types of twitches are rarely a sign of a serious problem.”

Causes for the twitch

The most common culprits behind the dreaded eye twitch, Dr. Perry says, are stress and fatigue.

Other causes of eye twitching include:

  • Eye irritation.
  • Eye strain.
  • Eyes that aren’t straight.
  • Eyes that need glasses.
  • Medication.
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco or caffeine.

To get your eye twitch to calm down, Dr. Perry suggests getting enough rest, cutting back on caffeine and reducing stress as much as possible.

Eye drops also can help, if your eyes need moisture.

When it’s time to see a doctor

If eye twitching seems to be lasting for a long time or is becoming particularly bothersome, Dr. Perry recommends a visit to an eye doctor to make sure nothing more serious going on and to consider treatment options.

If it’s more than a few days and it’s really bothering you, or if you notice any of these four signs, you should seek an evaluation:

  1. Symptoms such as weakness, drooping or double vision.
  2. Your eyes start to look red.
  3. It feels like there’s something in your eye or you’re getting light-sensitive
  4. If your vision is changing.

Eyelid twitching can sometimes be a part of spasm conditions affecting the eyes, such as essential blepharospasm or hemifacial spasm. “These disorders were some of the very first indications for Botox® injections, the same medicine that we now use to treat wrinkles,” says Dr. Perry.

Very rarely, eyelid spasms are a symptom of a more serious brain or nerve disorder. In these rare cases, eyelid spasms may be an early warning sign of a chronic movement disorder, especially if the spasms are accompanied by other facial twitches or uncontrollable movements.

“While serious disorders are rare, patients who are finding those benign twitches very annoying can find quick improvement with a few injections,” Dr. Perry says. “So it’s worthwhile to come in for an evaluation if the symptoms are bothersome.”

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