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We’ve all experienced it at one point or another, an unexplained eyelid twitch, which is medically known as blepharospasm. Most people assume that a twitching eyelid is just a sign that they haven’t gotten enough sleep lately, and they shrug it off until it goes away.

However, twitching eyelids can be more of a nuisance when they become a chronic issue, and causes aren’t always related to fatigue. In fact, in rare instances, a twitching eyelid can be a cause for concern, as it can be an early symptom of a chronic movement disorder.

WHAT CAUSES AN EYELID TWITCH?

Because eyelid twitches (also called spasms) aren’t usually a sign of anything serious, they often happen without any identifiable cause or any other symptoms. Common causes of eyelid spasms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Eye or eyelid irritation
  • Strenuous physical exertion
  • Alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine use
  • Stress

Eyelid twitches sometimes present as a side effect of certain medications, as well, though this is rare and usually not chronic. When the condition becomes chronic, it’s called benign essential blepharospasm. There is no known cause for chronic eyelid twitches like this, but some conditions do make the situation worse, such as:

  • Pink eye
  • Styes
  • Dry eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Stress
  • Fatigue

TREATING EYELID TWITCHES

For the most part, eyelid spasms will go away without treatment in a few hours, days, or weeks. If you’ve been under a lot of stress or you haven’t been sleeping enough, you can help speed the process along by getting more rest and finding healthy ways to relieve stress. Cutting down on caffeine and alcohol use helps, as well.

You can also relieve twitching eyelids by keeping your eyes well lubricated with preservative-free, over-the-counter eye drops. If you can, whenever an episode of twitching begins, apply a warm compress until the spasms subside.

While benign essential blespharospasms are usually not harmful or indicative of other problems, they can be very annoying. You can treat these with Botox injections. The botulinum toxin in a Botox injection lasts a few months, by which point your spasms may have subsided, or you may need to get another set of injections to treat them again.

WHEN A TWITCH INDICATES A PROBLEM

As we stated earlier, eyelid twitches are rarely signs of other, more serious problems. Fortunately, if your blespharospasms are an early warning sign of something serious, they usually come with other symptoms. Some of the conditions to be concerned about include:

  • Parkinson’s Disease: Causes rigidity in the muscles, shakiness, balance issues, and slurred speech
  • Tourette Syndrome: Causes the body to “tic” and spasm involuntarily
  • Bell’s Palsy: Causes drooping on one side of the face
  • Dystonia: Causes unexpected and uncontrollable muscle spasms in different areas of the body

Again, all of these are very rare cases. For most people, an eyelid twitch is just a sign that they need more rest or that they are in the presence of one of their allergy triggers. A scratched cornea can also cause an eyelid twitch, so, if you have a persistent twitch, see your eye doctor for an examination.

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