Eyelid twitching may occur due to muscle overstimulation or fatigue. It often stops on its own, but ways to stop it may include a warm compress, reducing stress, avoiding caffeine, and getting sleep.

Typically, eye twitching is mild and goes away on its own after a few seconds or a few minutes. It is usually not a sign of an underlying condition. However, there are a few things people can try to stop it

Mild eyelid twitching, or eyelid myokymia, is widespread. It has associations with stress, tiredness, and caffeine consumption. Reducing the factors that contribute to eyelid twitching may help reduce how frequently it occurs.

This article looks more closely at eye twitching, what causes it, and how to stop it.

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Mild eye twitching occurs when the orbicularis oculi muscle, which is responsible for eyelid closures, contracts spontaneously, causing small and uncontrollable twitching movements. The medical term for this condition is eyelid myokymia.

Eyelid myokymia can affect the upper or lower eyelid, but it most commonly affects the lower eyelid. Usually, the twitching is mild and brief and resolves on its own after a few seconds or minutes. In some cases, they can last for hours. Less commonly, they can become chronic.

Learn more about eyelid twitching here.

Other less common types of eyelid twitch include:

Essential blepharospasm

Essential blepharospasm causes the eyelids to close spontaneously. This can look similar to blinking or winking, but the eyelids may close for a more extended period in some cases. Blepharospasm may last a few seconds to a few hours, and some people may not be able to see during that time.

Doctors think that a problem with the nerves around the eyes causes essential blepharospasm but are unsure why it develops. Sometimes, another medical condition, such as Parkinson’s disease, can cause it.

Hemifacial spasm

Hemifacial spasm is a rare condition that causes the muscles on one side of the face to contract. Sometimes, this begins near the eye, causing eyelid spasms before affecting other areas of the face.

Hemifacial spasm can occur on its own, due to something pressing on the nerves that control the facial muscles, or as a result of another condition.

Eyelid myokymia often stops on its own. However, if a person wants to stop or reduce this symptom, they can try:

  1. Using a warm compress: People can use a warm compress and apply it over the eyelid area. This may help to relax the muscles around the eye and stop the spasms.
  2. Reducing stress: Eyelid myokymia has links to stress, so it may help to reduce exposure to stress. People can do this by delegating tasks to others, making time to wind down every day, trying stress-relieving hobbies, and practicing stress management techniques, such as breathing exercises or mindfulness.
  3. Avoiding caffeine: Tea, coffee, some sodas, and chocolate can all contain caffeine, which may trigger or worsen eyelid twitching. Try gradually reducing caffeine intake or eliminating caffeine.
  4. Getting enough sleep: Taking a nap may help to resolve eyelid twitching. It is also good to get enough sleep each day by setting a regular schedule for sleeping and waking up. If a person struggles to get to sleep, a doctor, sleep specialist, or another health professional may offer advice.
  5. Addressing dry eyes: Dry, irritated, or gritty eyes might contribute to eyelid twitching. People can use moisturizing eye drops to relieve dryness.

More severe or persistent eyelid spasms, such as blepharospasm and hemifacial spasm, may require medical treatment.

Scientists are not exactly sure what causes eyelid myokymia. It is a widespread condition that can occur in healthy individuals for no apparent reason. It appears to be linked to lifestyle factors, such as:

The side effects of some medications, including topiramate, flunarizine, and clozapine, can also cause eyelid twitching. However, this is uncommon.

A 2017 study from Taiwan on chronic eyelid twitching found that around half of the participants had differences in nerve function. This might be due to a nerve conduction defect, explaining why some people develop a long-lasting twitch.

Chronic eye twitching also appears to be more common in females, though experts do not know why.

The authors of the study suggest that it may be because females, particularly in China, may experience higher levels of stress than males due to societal or cultural pressures. Overall, though, more research is necessary.

Doctors do not know what causes blepharospasm, but it can sometimes be related to underlying conditions, such as:

The underlying conditions that can cause hemifacial spasm are similar and include:

  • traumatic injury
  • brain lesions
  • Bell’s palsy
  • mastoid or ear infections
  • tumors
  • other structural abnormalities in the rear of the skull cavity

Many of the known triggers for mild eye twitching are lifestyle-related, so people may be able to prevent this symptom by changing their daily routine. This may mean:

  • winding down for sleep earlier
  • sleeping and waking at similar times every day, including weekends
  • practicing sleep hygiene
  • switching to decaffeinated drinks
  • reducing activities or habits that create stress, such as overworking
  • seeking support from a therapist for anxiety or high stress levels
  • avoiding tobacco smoking or drinking alcohol

If eye twitching occurs frequently, people may find it helpful to record when it happens and note down any other contributing factors. This may help someone identify a pattern.

However, if the eye twitching is disruptive and does not appear to be related to daily habits, a doctor may be able to provide other treatments to curb or prevent it.

This could include Botox injections, which work by temporarily paralyzing the affected muscles to prevent the twitch.

In rare cases, doctors may recommend an eyelid protractor myectomy to correct blepharospasm or hemifacial spasm. This procedure removes the muscles causing the spasms. Identifying any underlying conditions causing the spasms will allow a doctor to treat to reduce or control this symptom.

Most of the time, eye twitching is mild and goes away on its own. However, people should contact an eye doctor if they experience:

  • twitching that keeps occurring for more than a few weeks
  • severe twitching that affects vision
  • spontaneous closing of the eyelids
  • twitching on other parts of the face
  • frequent dry eyes
  • other new symptoms that could indicate an underlying condition

Many people experience mild, temporary eye twitching. It usually is not a sign of a serious health condition and often does not require treatment.

People may find that the twitching occurs less often if they can reduce stress, anxiety, sleep disturbances, or caffeine consumption.

More disruptive forms of eye twitching include essential blepharospasm and hemifacial spasm. These can interfere with someone’s vision and make it difficult to perform activities, such as working or driving.

If a person has significant eye twitching, it is important to speak with a doctor.