CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Eye twitching can come and go unpredictably for a few days, weeks or months. The spasms don't hurt, but they can be annoying. In its most common form, eye twitching is harmless and stops on its own, although it may recur occasionally.
Sometimes, eye twitching may be the earliest sign of a chronic movement disorder, especially if other facial spasms develop in addition to the eye twitching. Usually, however, there is no identifiable cause.
Some of the causes of eyelid spasms that have been identified include:
- Alcohol intake
- Bright lights
- Caffeine intake
- Irritation of the eye surface or inner eyelids
- Lack of sleep
Chronic, uncontrollable eyelid movement affecting both eyes is known as benign essential blepharospasm. Although its exact cause is unknown, the following conditions may precede or accompany benign essential blepharospasm:
Very rarely, eye twitch may be a sign of certain brain and nervous system disorders. When it is, it's almost always accompanied by other signs and symptoms. Brain and nervous system disorders that can cause eye twitch include:
- Bell's palsy
- Cervical dystonia
- Multiple sclerosis
- Oramandipular dystonia and facial dystonia (a separate type of dystonia sometimes accompanied by blepharospasm)
- Parkinsonism: Causes and coping strategies
- Side effects of drugs, particularly medications used to treat epilepsy and psychosis
- Tourette syndrome
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
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- Comella C. Classification and evaluation of dystonia. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Oct. 15, 2012.
- Review and update of involuntary facial movement disorders presenting in an ophthalmological setting. Survey of Ophthalmology. 2011;56:54.
- Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html#. Accessed Nov. 9, 2012.
- Hay WW, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 20th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=14. Accessed Nov. 9, 2012.
- Liu GT, et al. Neuro-Ophthalmology: Diagnosis and management. 2nd edition. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:467.
- Gerstenblith AT, et al., eds. The Wills Eye Manual: Office and Emergency Room Diagnosis and Treatment of Eye Disease. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012. http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&CSC=Y&NEWS=N&PAGE=booktext&D=books3&AN=01626623/6th_Edition/2&XPATH=/OVIDBOOK%5b1%5d/METADATA%5b1%5d/TBY%5b1%5d/EDITORS%5b1%5d. Accessed Nov. 14, 2012.