Why Does Your Eyelid Twitch?

Why Does Your Eyelid Twitch?
Why Does Your Eyelid Twitch? (Courtesy Peter Clarke)

Eyelid twitch is generally not dangerous

In most cases, a twitching eyelid, also known as blepharospasm or Myokymia, is nothing to worry about. These involuntary movements of the eyelid can occur as frequently as every few seconds over a short period of time, usually only a few seconds to a minute or two.

The spasms can be nothing more than a minor, annoying twitch, or can be violent enough to make your eyelid completely close for a brief time. Generally twitching stops on its own, but can sometimes be an early sign of a chronic disorder.

Occasional eye twitches can be caused by any number of factors, including consuming alcohol or caffeine, being overly fatigued, suffering from eye irritation, exerting yourself too much physically or smoking.

Stress can also be a cause. Sometimes, when the spasms last for a longer period of time, they are accompanied by pink eye or dryness.

However, in very rare cases a twitching eyelid can be a symptom of a more severe brain or nerve condition, including Bell’s Palsy, dystonia, Tourette syndrome and other medical issues.

Blepharospasm affects about 60,000 Americans, and is more likely to affect women and those over 40, according to Mary Smith of the Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation.

“It can be problematic, if you don’t know when your eyes are going to shut, you may walk into things or fall,” she says. “It’s definitely debilitating.”

There’s a genetic component to blepharospasm and also a trigger — sometimes trauma, a secondary condition like dry eye or even external factors like bright or rapidly changing lights. It is most commonly treated with regular Botox injections and, interestingly, blepharospasm was among the conditions listed during Botox’s first FDA approval in 1988, according to Smith.

As with any medical condition, if you feel an eye twitch is more than a minor occurrence, seek medical attention and testing to rule out more serious illnesses.

Karen is a Toronto based writer, and has been writing full-time for eCanadaNow since May of 2011, covering many topics including politics and world issues. Prior to her work writing and editing for eCanadaNow, she worked as a freelance journalist. You can email Karen at [Karene at ecanadanow.com]