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Many people experience eye twitching occasionally. It is usually not a cause for concern, but it can be an indication of a greater eye health problem. Eye twitching, medically known as myokymia, occurs when there is an involuntary contraction (muscle spasm) in the eyelid muscle.
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The exact cause is unknown and might vary from person to person. Some people notice an increase in twitching when they are experiencing stress. Other causes of eye twitching include:
Prolonged periods of looking at a computer, phone screen, or book can cause eye strain, which can also increase twitching. Corneal abrasions also cause twitching.
Another cause of eye twitching is dry eyes. People who experience chronic or occasional dry eyes tend to have a more frequent issue with twitching. Eye twitching is also linked to allergies.
Most instances and causes of eye twitching are not serious, but there are two instances in which a serious eye health condition will cause twitching. These include:
Benign essential blepharospasm causes involuntary movements in the eye. There is no known cause, but researchers believe it is linked to a malfunction of basal ganglia, which are cells in the nervous system.
In addition to the causes and conditions listed above, eye twitching is an indication of a brain or nervous system disorder. It is rarely the only symptom a person experiences when this is the case. Eye twitching has also been linked to the following serious conditions:
Some people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease experience eye twitching as a side effect of the medication used to treat their primary nerve disorder.
Complications of eye twitching only occur in rare cases. It tends to be a temporary, highly treatable, and preventable issue. However, some people experience side effects caused by twitching, including:
Eye twitching is usually not a cause for serious concern, especially if it only lasts for a short time. However, if the twitching persists or someone is experiencing other symptoms in addition to twitching, it’s important to speak to a doctor or ophthalmologist.
If eye twitching is interfering with daily activities or your ability to sleep, it is essential to see an eye doctor even if the cause is not serious. Treatment is available, so there is no reason to allow eye twitching to affect your quality of life. Your doctor will assess your overall health and refer you to a vision specialist for an eye exam to rule out any serious causes or vision concerns.
Contact your doctor if you experience eye twitching that:
Temporary instances of eye twitching usually don’t require treatment. However, if twitching interferes with your quality of life, affects your vision, or is chronic, treatment is necessary.
In some cases, treatment includes only lifestyle changes, such as:
Surgery, drug therapy, and preventative therapy are also treatment options for eye twitching. Many people try several different combinations of treatment before finding what works best for them.
Three of the most common treatments for chronic eye twitching include:
The muscles around the eye are injected with botulinum toxin when eye twitching is chronic and uncomfortable. This paralyzes the muscles so they are no longer able to contract and twitch.
For some people, eye twitching requires a surgical procedure called myectomy. This involves removing some of the muscles and nerves in the eyelids.
Eye drops or artificial tears are effective for easing twitching, especially when the condition is directly related to dry eye. Eye drops are available over the counter, but your doctor might also recommend specific types of drops if you suffer from chronic dry eyes.
For many people, the best treatment for eye twitching is taking steps to prevent it from occurring. There are several things you can do to reduce twitching, many of which offer additional benefits. The most common options for preventing eye twitching include:
“Eye Twitching Causes.” Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/eye-twitching/basics/causes/sym-20050838.
“Eye Twitching / Eyelid Twitch: Causes and Treatments for Blepharospasm.” EyeHealthWeb.Com, 26 Jan. 2013, www.eyehealthweb.com/eye-twitching.
“What Causes Your Eyelid to Twitch and How to Get Relief.” Verywell Health, www.verywellhealth.com/why-does-my-eye-twitch-3422029.