What causes eye blinking symptoms?

Most commonly, increased eye blinking results from eye irritation caused by bright light, dust, smoke, or a foreign body in the eye. Allergies, infections, and dry eye may also increase the rate of blinking. Conditions of stress, anxiety or fatigue may lead to increased blinking. Increased blinking, especially in children, may be a type of facial tic. Congenital glaucoma is a rare cause of increased blinking.

Eye blinking symptoms may also be caused by conditions occurring in the nervous system.

A severe decrease in blinking is seen chiefly in Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder that impairs movement and coordination.

Ophthalmologic causes of eye blinking symptoms

Eye blinking symptoms may be caused by specific disorders or injuries to the eyeball or eye orbit itself including:

  • Allergies
  • Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid margin)
  • Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye surface)
  • Contact lens wear
  • Corneal abrasion or ulcer
  • Dry eyes
  • Exposure to irritants such as smoke, smog or dust
  • Foreign body in the eye

Neurologic causes of eye blinking symptoms

Eye blinking symptoms can also be caused by neurologic disorders including:

  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Blepharospasm (involuntary spasm or twitching of the eyelid)
  • Dystonia
  • Facial tic
  • Parkinson’s disease (brain disorder that impairs movement and coordination)
  • Stroke
  • Tardive (slow or belated onset) dyskinesia
  • Tourette’s syndrome

Serious or life-threatening causes of eye blinking symptoms

In some cases, eye blinking symptoms may be an indication of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Aicardi syndrome (rare organic brain disorder acquired in early childhood)
  • Congenital glaucoma
  • Seizure disorder
  • Stroke

Questions for diagnosing the cause of eye blinking symptoms

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your eye blinking symptoms including:

  • How long have you been experiencing eye blinking symptoms?
  • Are your blinking symptoms constant, or do they come and go?
  • Are there any conditions or situations that make your eye blinking symptoms worse?
  • Have your eyes been exposed to a toxic substance?
  • Do you have any other eye-related symptoms or problems?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Do you have any body-wide symptoms such as fever and chills or fatigue?
  • Have you had any recent numbness, weakness or paralysis in your face?
  • Are you having any difficulty with speech?
  • Do you have any muscle weakness or problems with coordination?
  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of eye blinking symptoms?

Because eye blinking symptoms can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Corneal abrasion, ulcer or scarring
  • Eye pain
  • Increase in eye infections
  • Loss of vision and blindness

References:

Eyelid twitch. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000756.htm. Accessed May 3, 2011.

Facial tics. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001410.htm. Accessed May 3, 2011.

INTRODUCTION

What are the signs of eye blinking problems?

Eye blinking symptoms include both an increased and decreased rate of blinking. Most commonly, increased eye blinking results from eye irritation caused by bright light, dust, smoke, or a foreign body in the eye. Allergies, infections, and dry eye may also increase the rate of blinking. Conditions of stress, anxiety ... Read more about eye blinking symptomsintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with eye blinking symptoms?

Eye blinking symptoms may accompany other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the eye may also involve other body systems.... Read more about eye blinking symptomssymptoms

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Eyes and Vision


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