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Why does my eye twitch?

An eye twitch is actually a spasm of the muscles in the eyelid. The condition medically termed as myokymia is actually very common. It can happen to the upper or lower lid. It happens spontaneously and can last for a few seconds or longer. Most patients describe the twitching as coming on and off for a few days to a few weeks. Often, you might feel the eye is moving so much that the whole room notices! In fact, the movement is quite small and people around you may hardly notice.

What causes eyelid twitching?

The eyelid twitch may actually be brought on by several different factors. One of the main reasons we experience eye twitching is fatigue. Stress can also be a contributing factor. Caffeine is also a culprit. Caffeine causes the tiny muscles in your eyelid to spasm resulting in the twitching sensation.

  • fatigue
  • stress
  • caffeine

Some people experience twitching secondary to inflammation of the eyelids, or blepharitis. Blepharitis is a condition that involves a blockage of the oil-secreting glands and deposit build-up in the lashes. This deposit build-up and inflammation can lead to a contraction and potential spasm of the eyelid muscles.

When should I see a doctor?

While most of the time, eyelid twitching is harmless, there are instances when a more serious underlying condition may be at cause. Benign eyelid twitching is painless and not associated with other neurological symptoms. You should consult a doctor if the eyelid twitching is constant or doesn’t resolve after a few weeks. If you are experiencing forceful eyelid spasms that cause your eye to completely close, this could indicate blepharospasm. If the twitching progresses to the lower face, a hemifacial spasm might be the diagnosis. A hemifacial spasm can be caused by a tumour. Eyelid twitching can also be associated with neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s.

What can help alleviate eyelid twitching?

Get some rest. If possible, try to reduce some of the stressful factors or practice stress-reducing techniques such as yoga or meditation. Can you decrease the amount of coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages? Easier said then done. Cold compresses can also help relieve the spasm of the eyelids.

In most cases, eyelid twitching is completely benign and can be relieved following a few simple steps within a few weeks. If there is any doubt, it’s best to consult a doctor.


Dr Angela Issa, optometrist