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When To Worry About Eye Twitching

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Most of us know the feeling: a twitch in the eye, uncontrolled and unintentional. It can be distracting, irritating, and a little uncomfortable. 

An eye twitch can be annoying, but have you ever grown concerned that it might indicate something more serious? A sign of eye disease or another problem in the body, perhaps? There’s no need to rush to worst-case scenarios—there’s a range of causes for eye twitching, many of them mild and manageable.

The professionals at EyeRx are here to help you understand anything that affects your eyes and your vision. Read on to explore what causes eye twitching, how twitching can be mitigated, and when it’s time to bring your concerns to the optometrist.

Types of Twitches

There are different types of eye twitches, and their severity varies:

  • Myokymia: involuntary spasms of the eyelid. These are generally mild, like a gentle tug on the eyelid.
  • Blepharospasm: a chronic eye twitch that may begin with small spasms, but develops into eyelid twitches that can force your eye closed.
  • Hemifacial spasm: muscle spasms that affect one side of the face, including the eyelid. This may be caused by an injury, tumor, or an artery pressing on a nerve.

These eye twitches can happen with different levels of severity and may be connected to other systemic conditions and eye problems.

Causes of Eye Twitching

Eye twitching can occur sporadically, seemingly without warning. Let’s break down what can lead to muscle spasms in the eyelid and surrounding areas.

The Mundane & Easily Treatable

The majority of eye twitching is completely harmless. Many cases of eye twitching can be linked to interruptions in a healthy lifestyle. Factors include:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of sleep
  • Excessive caffeine consumption
  • Too much alcohol
  • Eyestrain
  • Exposure to too much light
  • Too much exercise
  • Driving

More Concerning Causes

In a small number of cases, eye twitching is a symptom of a more serious underlying problem. These include disorders like:

  • Bell’s palsy: temporary weakness or paralysis of the face muscles.
  • Dystonia: Involuntary muscle contractions that can affect multiple parts of the body
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS): a central nervous system disorder where your immune system attacks the protective layer around your nerves
  • Tourette’s syndrome: a neurological disorder that’s characterized by tics from muscle spasms to vocal tics
  • Parkinson’s disease: a neurological condition that worsens over time & impacts movement
  • Myasthenia gravis: a neuromuscular condition that may be linked to the autoimmune system that results in the weakening of muscles, including spasms 
A woman touching just underneath her left eye as it is feeling irritated from an eye twitch

How Eye Twitching Can Affect Your Vision

Though most eye twitching passes quickly and isn’t concerning, a chronic eye twitch may interfere with clear vision and your day-to-day life. Watch for vision problems associated with the eye twitching, like:

  • Eye irritation 
  • The sensation there’s something in your eye
  • Increased rate of blinking
  • Light sensitivity
  • Dry eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Facial spasms (such as the eye closing of its own accord)

Eye twitching can also have a close relationship with other eye conditions, exacerbating their symptoms.

When to Visit the Eye Doctor

We encourage you to talk to your optometrist whenever you have a new symptom arise in your eyes. Note any changes in your vision and bring them to your eye doctor’s attention as soon as possible. Prevention is the best medicine, and routine eye exams can help diagnose problems before they become too serious.

If you’ve tried to get more sleep, reduce stress, cut back on caffeine and alcohol, yet still have a prevalent, uncontrollable eye twitch, it’s likely time to see the doctor. Other signs its time for medical intervention include:

  • Eye twitching that’s gone of for weeks
  • Complete closure of the eye during a twitch
  • Difficulty opening the affected eye
  • Twitching in multiple areas of the body
  • An eye that’s red, swollen, or has discharge
  • Droopy eyelids

The Bottom Line

More often than not, eye twitching is a temporary response to a lifestyle stressor that will go away on its own. However, rare cases of eye twitching may be signs of a more serious condition. If you have questions or concerns about an eye twitch, visit EyeRx to have your eyes and vision assessed by a skilled professional.

Written by Stephen Lobaugh

Dr. Lobaugh earned his doctorate from the New England College of Optometry in 1997 and has dedicated his career to providing high-quality eye care services to residents of the Washington-Baltimore area.

Dr. Lobaugh is an Affiliate Doctor with TLC Laser Eye Centers, a position that allows him to effectively co-manage a variety of refractive surgeries including LASIK, PRK, and KAMRA inlay. He is also certified by the International Association of Board of Examiners in the treatment and management of ocular disease.

In 2015, Dr. Lobaugh joined the Eye Rx team, allowing us to open our second location in Washington. He hopes to continue to serve the residents of the D.C. Metropolitan area for many more years to come.

More Articles by Stephen Lobaugh

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