Why is my eye twitching?

A man touching his eye

It’s common — and annoying — to notice one of your eyelids has started to spasm or twitch. The good news is that it’s generally not a sign of anything serious, and there are some things you can try to get it to stop.

The bad news is that this can involve some trial and error, and it may take a couple of days before it goes away.

What typically causes an eye to twitch?

There are a few versions of “eye twitch,” but by far the most typical type is called myokymia.

Myokymia is a twitching of the upper or lower eyelid, usually only one at a time, and also usually only involving one eye at a time. Most people will have a few bouts of it in their lifetime, with episodes lasting from a few days to a few weeks.

The most common causes for myokymia are stress, caffeine changes, sleep changes or fatigue, as well as the use of alcohol, nicotine and certain medications.

When is eye twitching cause for concern?

Myokymia is generally considered benign, and although it’s an annoyance, it’s not a concern for a bigger underlying issue.

There may be more substantial concerns if the twitch converts to a more forceful, uncontrolled closure of the eyelids (called blepharospasm), or if it begins to involve more muscles down the side of the face (known as a hemifacial spasm). In those circumstances, you should see an eye care provider.

Can eye twitching lead to other problems?

There’s not typically a concern that a benign myokymia twitch will lead to bigger issues.

If one of the more-serious issues is diagnosed (blepharospasm or hemifacial spasm), you could have a more significant neurologic issue. If you have any version of a more severe twitch, and it is worsening, persisting, or new symptoms are arising, see an eye care provider.

Does it matter if it's under-eye muscles twitching versus eyelid twitching?

It doesn’t make any difference whether the twitch involves the upper or lower eyelid.

The muscle involved with myokymia is the orbicularis oculi. It encircles the eye and is the main muscle of both the upper and lower eyelids.

The concern would be if the twitch begins to involve muscles farther down in the face or cheek.

How can I get my eye to stop twitching?

The best way to eliminate the twitch is to take away or minimize the trigger — which is often difficult to determine.

In my experience, the most common cause for myokymia is a new stressor in your life. Eye twitching will usually go away on its own in a couple of weeks, but reducing the stress or minimize those possible changes with caffeine intake, sleep, or fatigue can speed up resolution.

Is there any treatment available for eye twitching? How would I know when to consider it?

There are some anecdotal treatments that have been identified with cases of myokymia, but there is little to no research to back them.

If you cannot identify and eliminate the trigger, which is often the case, know that most cases of myokymia will resolve within two or three weeks.

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