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Eye twitching occurs when the eye muscles experience involuntary spasms. This can cause an eyelid twitch or abnormal blinking.
There are three common types of eye twitching:
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There is no official known cause of eye twitching. However, it has been linked to many issues, including:
In more rare cases, eye twitching is caused by a serious medical issue, such as:
These conditions should not be confused with myokymia, which is common and harmless.
Eye twitching happens when the eye muscles spasm involuntarily. It is commonly caused by factors like alcohol and caffeine consumption, fatigue, exposure to bright lights, stress, and others. Conditions like Bell's palsy, multiple sclerosis, tourette syndrome, and Parkinson's disease can also cause eye twitching.
For most people, eye twitching is not a serious issue. However, you should seek medical attention if any of the following occurs:
It is quite rare, but eyelid twitching can be a symptom of a brain or nervous system disorder.
For most people, eyelid muscle spasms are a temporary occurrence and aren’t a side effect of anything serious. However, eye twitching can be a symptom of a neurological condition, nerve disorder, or a virus.
Conditions that may cause eye twitches as a symptom include:
If an eyelid twitch is a concern or the twitching doesn’t resolve itself in a week, it’s best to schedule an appointment for a medical exam.
Eye twitching can be a sign of a stroke. You should not panic and assume you are having a stroke if your eye twitches. Instead, evaluate your medical condition for other concerns occurring simultaneously.
Most often, eye twitching accompanied by other symptoms is an indicator of a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini-stroke.
TIA occurs when there is a temporary blockage of a blood vessel in the brain. Symptoms of TIA include:
These symptoms almost always occur on only one side of the body. A TIA, though related to stroke, is different from a regular stroke because the blood clot that causes the TIA dissolves on its own, usually within a few minutes.
However, a TIA is a warning sign. Many people who experience TIA go on to have an ischemic stroke in which a blood clot does not dissolve before causing neurological damage. There are also instances in which someone who experiences TIA goes on to have a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when either a brain aneurysm bursts or a blood vessel leaks. Hemorrhagic strokes have a high fatality rate. The length of the blocking of blood flow determines the severity of an ischemic stroke.
According to the American Stroke Association, approximately a third of people who experience TIA have a full stroke within a year.
Although very rare, eye twitching can be a sign of a brain or nervous system disorder. This includes multiple sclerosis (MS), dystonia, Tourette syndrome, Parkinson's disease, and Bell's palsy. If this is the case, other symptoms are also present, not just eye twitching alone.
Eye twitching is normal for some. However, it can be a cause for concern when the twitching becomes persistent, is present in other parts of the body, or starts to show signs of inflammation. When this happens, seek medical help immediately. Eye twitching may be a sign of stroke, multiple sclerosis, and other nervous system-related disorders.
The best way to control eyelid spasms is based on the cause of the twitching. For example, if twitching is caused by a certain situation, do the following:
Regardless of the cause of eye twitching, applying a warm compress to your eye helps. Some people have had success using a chamomile tea bag as a compress. Gentle massaging also tends to help.
For severe eye twitching, ask your doctor about:
It’s important to speak to your doctor about your eye twitching concerns if they do not resolve within a few weeks with at-home treatment.
“Eye Twitching Causes.” Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/eye-twitching/basics/causes/sym-20050838.
“Eyelid Spasm and Twitching Treatment.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 10 Sept. 2019, www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/eyelid-spasm-twitch-treatment.
“Eyelid Twitch: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” Medlineplus.Gov, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000756.htm.
“TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack).” Www.Stroke.Org, 2019, www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/types-of-stroke/tia-transient-ischemic-attack.