Eye Education

How Serious Is Eye Twitching?

Sometimes it’s just an irritating little flutter. Other times, your eyelid feels like it’s bouncing to EDM rhythms all its own. While eye twitches can be annoying, in most cases they aren’t serious. But sometimes persistent twitching can be a sign of an underlying brain or nerve condition. 

Here’s what you need to know to understand what causes eye twitches—and how to make them stop.

What causes eye twitching? 

There are a number of reasons why your eye might develop a twitch or tic. The muscle fibers that control your eyelid are sensitive, so it doesn’t take much for them to fire involuntarily. 

Stress or fatigue are frequent causes of an eye twitch. And as we become more dependent on digital devices, our eyes are getting tired—and twitching—more often.

Other causes of eye twitches include dehydration, dry eyes, squinting in bright light, or consuming too much caffeine or alcohol. 

The scientific name for this type of twitch is eyelid myokymia, and it’s extremely common. Myokymia generally affects just one eye at a time. It can happen on your lower or upper lid, but it’s more common on the lower lid. 

Fortunately, myokymia usually goes away on its own in a day or two without the need for medical treatment. 

How can I stop my eye from twitching? 

You can usually stop mild twitches by avoiding the behavior or trigger that caused the spasm. Sounds easy, right?

If your eyes are tired, take a break from screens or close reading. If they’re dry, moisturize them with artificial tears. If you’re wired from a double Americano, ease up on coffee for the rest of the day. And if you’re stressed, consider taking some time to relax through mindfulness practice like meditation.

If you have severe eye twitching, it may not be as easy to stop with lifestyle changes alone. In these cases, your doctor might suggest Botox injections to stop the muscle from contracting.

For more eye twitch remedies, check our 5 Tips to Stop Your Eyes from Twitching.

When is it time to see the doctor about an eye twitch? 

While myokymia isn’t a serious condition, more severe eye twitching can be a cause for concern. You should talk to your doctor if your eyes twitch constantly, your entire eye or other parts of your face spasm, you have red or watery eyes, or your twitch doesn’t go away on its own in a week or two.

Serious eye twitches can last longer than myokymia and may affect your ability to safely drive, climb stairs and do other everyday activities. These conditions include essential blepharospasm (when one or both of your eyes close involuntarily) and hemifacial spasm (when the muscles on one side of your face seize up involuntarily). Scientists aren’t sure exactly what causes these spasms, but both conditions are related to how your nerves send signals telling your muscles to move.

In rare cases, an eye twitch might be a sign of a neurological condition like multiple sclerosis, Tourette syndrome, Bell’s palsy or Parkinson’s disease. In these cases, the twitch is one of many symptoms that your doctor will use to help her make a diagnosis and recommend treatment.

When do your eyes twitch the most? Do you have a tried and true method of banishing myokymia? We want to hear about it! Find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and join the conversation.