We’ve all been there. Out of nowhere, your eye starts twitching. Sometimes it’s the upper lid, sometimes the lower. Sometimes it goes away as quickly as it arrived. Other times, it lingers for days or even longer. So what’s going on?
John A. Moran Eye Center neuro-ophthalmologist Srav Vegunta, MD, offers some answers to common questions about this universal experience:
How do I know I have an eye twitch?
Your upper or lower eyelid muscles will twitch or cause minor involuntary spasms or blinking. Even though the twitch is mild, it can feel more noticeable than it actually is. People probably won’t see it at all when they look at you.
What might cause or aggravate an eye twitch?
While we’re not 100% sure, it may originate in the motor nerves of the brain. We usually consider a range of causes, including lack of sleep, stress, eye strain, light sensitivity, and dry or irritated eyes. Too much caffeine and certain medications may also contribute to the twitch. In some cases, it runs in families.
How long does eye twitching typically last?
In most cases, it’s temporary, goes away on its own, and doesn’t affect your vision.
What can I do to make an eye twitch go away?
- Get some quality, restful sleep.
- Limit your caffeine intake, whether from coffee, tea, or sodas.
- Try to reduce stress with exercise, deep breathing, medication, or taking a restful break from stressful situations.
- Keep your eyes moisturized with soothing eye drops.
When should I see a doctor about an eye twitch?
In more severe cases, eyelids may close forcefully, last for seconds or minutes, and become more noticeable over time. If this happens, it’s essential to consult a doctor to rule out other conditions. Some people experience neurological problems, such as blepharospasm or hemifacial spasms, that can make eyelid muscles contract. Generally, these conditions cause the eyelids to close all the way and for more extended periods. They can limit or block vision. Hemifacial spasm may cause twitching of other muscles in the face.
If twitching lasts for weeks, or you have trouble opening the eye or seeing, contact your doctor. You may benefit from oral medications or a series of botulinum toxin injections. When injected under the skin around the eyes, botulinum toxin can relax the muscles and prevent spasms for a few months.