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Eye twitching occurs when the eye muscles experience involuntary spasms. An eye twitch is medically known as myokymia.
There is no official known cause, but it is linked to many issues, including:
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In more rare cases, eye twitching is caused by a serious medical issue, such as:
Eye twitching can also occur when someone is using certain drugs. These conditions should not be confused with myokymia, which is common and harmless.
For most people, blepharospasm or eye twitching is not a serious issue. However, you should seek medical attention if any of the following occurs:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you can book an in-person or virtual eye exam with a nearby doctor in your network using Zocdoc.
For most people, eyelid muscle spasms are a temporary occurrence and aren’t one of the side effects of anything serious. However, eye twitching can be a symptom of a neurological condition or a virus. Twitching can also be a sign of a condition like Bell’s Palsy.
If an eyelid twitch is a concern or the twitching doesn’t resolve itself in a couple of weeks, 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, but you should 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. In addition to eye drooping, 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.
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.