What is eye twitching?

Eye twitching is a series of rapid, uncontrolled contractions or spasms of one or all four eyelids. The twitches often occur in irregular rhythms. The medical term for this symptom is myokymia. Sometimes the term eye twitching is used to describe blepharospasm, a condition characterized by increased involuntary eye blinking. Blepharospasm is classified as a dystopia, a disorder in which the nervous system signals muscles to contract inappropriately. Blepharospam typically involves all four eyelids.

Eye twitching may occur with other eye symptoms such as watery eyes and irritated or red eyes or eyelids. Sometimes eye twitching appears along with facial tics, which are other involuntary movements of the face including grimacing and nose twitching.

The vast majority of spontaneous eye twitching episodes are benign, self-limited, and leave no clues as to their cause. The most common known causes of eye twitching include fatigue, stress, anxiety, and excessive caffeine intake. Eye twitching may appear in response to irritation caused by smoke, dust, or a foreign body in the eye. Allergies and infections may cause irritation that leads to twitching. Eye twitching is also seen in primary congenital glaucoma. Various conditions that affect the brain and central nervous system can also cause eye twitching, including stroke, dystonia, tardive (slow or belated onset) dyskinesia, Tourette’s syndrome, and Aicardi syndrome (rare organic brain disorder acquired in early childhood).

In most cases, eye twitching goes away on its own with rest or removal of irritating factors. If you have persistent eye twitching, contact your health care provider to determine the underlying cause and to obtain any treatment that may be needed.

Eye twitching is not an emergency unless it is related to a stroke. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have symptoms of a stroke such as sudden numbness or weakness of the face or a limb, especially on one side of the body, sudden confusion, difficulty seeing, sudden vision changes, sudden difficulty with coordination, or sudden severe, unexplained headache.

Eye twitching usually goes away on its own. Seek prompt medical care if it does not resolve within a week, if eye twitching closes your eye completely or involves other parts of your face, if you have facial paralysis or partial facial paralysis, if your upper eyelid droops, or if you experience discharge, redness, and swelling in or around the eye.


What other symptoms might occur with eye twitching?

Eye twitching may accompany other symptoms, which will vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the eye may also involve other body systems.

Ophthalmologic symptoms that may occur along with eye twitching

Eye twitching may accompany other symptoms affecting the eye including:


What causes eye twitching?

The most common causes of eye twitching are caffeine, fatigue, anxiety and stress. Eye twitching may appear in response to irritation caused by smoke, dust, or a foreign body in the eye. Allergies and infections may also cause irritation that leads to twitching. Eyelid twitching may be a symptom of neurologic disorders su... Read more about eye twitchingcauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 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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