What are twitching eyelids?
Eyelid twitches – also known as eyelid contractions – are when you have an involuntary spasm of the eyelid muscles that happens again and again.
If you notice your eyelids are twitching a lot, you should know that this is common. Most of the time, twitching eyelids are harmless.
Eyelid twitches can be due to eye strain, eye irritation, or not getting enough sleep. However, long-lasting eyelid twitches may be a sign of a more serious condition.
There are several different types of twitching eyelids:
- Myokymia: These are common, infrequent eyelid spasms that usually affect the lower eyelid. If you have myokymia, your twitching eyelids will feel almost like a gentle tug. There may be several causes, but these kinds of twitching eyelids will usually disappear after a few days of good rest.
- Benign essential blepharospasm: If your eyelids twitch regularly over a long period of time, this may be a symptom of benign essential blepharospasm. This is a movement disorder affecting both of your eyes. Women and people between the age of 50 and 70 are more likely to have this condition. Other symptoms may include increased sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and facial spasms.
- Hemifacial spasms: If your eyelid twitches only affect one eye, it could be a hemifacial spasm. This occurs when a blood vessel puts too much pressure on one of the nerves in your face. It usually occurs in episodes of twitching. You may also experience one eye closing completely, or your mouth being pulled to one side, and other muscles on that side of your face may be affected.
Eyelid twitches are usually caused by environmental factors affecting your overall health. This includes having a lack of sleep or being tired, feeling anxious or stressed, doing exercise or consuming caffeine.
Less common causes or triggers include:
- Certain medications such as clozapine, flunarizine and topiramate
- Drinking alcohol
- Dry eyes
- Blepharitis (inflammation of your eyelid)
- Irritated eyes (from strain or environmental factors such as pollution or wind)
- Migraine episodes
- Multiple sclerosis
- Sensitivity to light
- Swelling of your uveitis (your eye’s middle layer)
Less commonly, chronic eyelid spasms can be the result of a serious condition or require emergency medical treatment. Conditions that can cause chronic, or long-lasting twitching eyelids include dystonia, facial palsy (Bell’s palsy) and multiple sclerosis. You may also experience twitching eyelids if you have Parkinson’s disease, spasmodic torticollis or Tourette syndrome.
When should I see a medical professional?
You should see a medical professional if you’re having chronic eyelid spasms. We consider your eyelid spasms to be chronic if you experience regular episodes of eyelid twitching for a sustained period of time, or episodes affecting both eyes.
You should also seek medical advice if your eye is red or swollen, or has an unusual discharge, as well as twitching. A drooping upper eyelid and twitching that affects other muscles in the face are also signs to speak to your doctor or a specialist healthcare professional.
If you believe that one or both of your eyes are injured, our expert consultants at Oculase will be able to diagnose you and recommend suitable treatment.
Most of the time, your twitching eyelids will be harmless and go away without treatment being needed.
If they don’t go away in a few days, you can try and treat your twitching yourself. You can do this by making sure you are getting enough sleep and reducing how much caffeine you drink. Putting a warm compress (such as a warm cloth or towel) on your eye and keeping your eyes lubricated with eye drops can help soothe them and reduce your symptoms.
If persistent eye twitching is disrupting your daily life, we can provide advice and recommend the most suitable treatment for you. This might include:
- Antibiotics or steroids to reduce eyelid inflammation
- Botox to relax the muscles causing your twitching eyelids, preventing the muscles from moving stopping these involuntary facial spasms. Two types of twitching eyelids – benign essential blepharospasm and hemifacial spasm – were among the first conditions approved for Botox treatment.
- Surgery to remove affected nerves or muscles in the eyelids. This is known as a myectomy.
Book an appointment
If you have twitching eyelids which won’t go away, give yourself peace of mind with an expert opinion.
The experienced ophthalmologists at Oculase will put you at ease, providing a consultation and eye assessment to identify the cause and take further steps, including suitable tests if necessary.