Locations:
Search IconSearch
November 22, 2021/Health Conditions/Eye Care

Why You Have That Pesky Eye Twitch — and When to Seek Help

Common causes for repetitive spasms of your eyelid muscle

eye twitch

There’s nothing worse than trying to focus during the day with a pesky eye twitch that won’t stop flickering. You know what we mean — that repetitive, involuntary spasm of your eyelid muscle that occurs every few seconds for a minute or two.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

The most common culprits behind the dreaded eye twitch are stress and fatigue. Other causes include:

  • Eye irritation.
  • Eye strain.
  • Eyes that aren’t straight.
  • Eyes that need glasses.
  • Medication.
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco or caffeine.

But is that twitch just annoying or can it be a sign of a more serious problem? Oculofacial plastic surgeon Julian D. Perry, MD, has your answer.

More annoying than harmful

Eye twitches are common and usually aren’t anything to worry about, says Dr. Perry. Most of the time, these unpredictable eye spasms will resolve on their own without any need for medical treatment.

“Many patients worry this may represent a neurologic problem. They worry that something serious is going on, but that’s rarely the case,” Dr. Perry says.

“Several things can cause one or both eyes to twitch and they can last for days to weeks, which can be very frustrating,” he says. “But these types of twitches are rarely a sign of a serious problem.”

Advertisement

To get your eye twitch to calm down, Dr. Perry suggests getting enough rest, cutting back on caffeine and reducing stress as much as possible. Eye drops also can help if your eyes need moisture.

When it’s time to see a doctor

If your eye twitching lingers for longer periods or becomes particularly bothersome, Dr. Perry recommends a visit to an eye doctor to make sure nothing more serious is going on.

Seek an evaluation if you notice any of these four signs:

  1. Symptoms such as weakness, drooping or double vision.
  2. Your eyes start to look red.
  3. It feels like there’s something in your eye or you’re getting light-sensitive.
  4. Your vision is changing.

Eyelid twitching can sometimes be a part of spasm conditions affecting the eyes, such as essential blepharospasm or hemifacial spasm. “These disorders were some of the very first indications for Botox® injections, the same medicine that we now use to treat wrinkles,” says Dr. Perry.

Very rarely, eyelid spasms are a symptom of a more serious brain or nerve disorder. In these rare cases, eyelid spasms may be an early warning sign of a chronic movement disorder, especially if the spasms are accompanied by other facial twitches or uncontrollable movements.

“While serious disorders are rare, patients who are finding those benign twitches very annoying can find quick improvement with a few injections,” Dr. Perry says. “So it’s worthwhile to come in for an evaluation if the symptoms are bothersome.”

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Older person smiling, taking in the outdoors
June 13, 2024/Mental Health
Put Intention Behind Your Walking Meditation

While walking, be mindful of your body, your mind, your place in the world and all five of your senses as you pave a path forward, one step at a time

Person blowing nose, surrounded by medicines and home remedies
May 30, 2024/Primary Care
Why Do I Keep Getting Sick?

Stress and unhealthy habits can lead to more colds, but taking some precautions may help you stay well

Person at podium in front of crowd, nervous, sweating
May 20, 2024/Mental Health
Anxiety Has Its Benefits — But Only in Healthy Doses

A healthy amount of anxiety can keep you safe from harm and motivate you to take action

Adult receiving eye drops from a healthcare provider
May 10, 2024/Eye Care
When Is It Too Late To Treat Lazy Eye?

While it’s best to fix amblyopia during childhood, it can also be addressed as an adult

Person vacuuming around living room
April 17, 2024/Eye Care
5 Tips for Coping With Geographic Atrophy

Preserving your social life and protecting your mental health are key to living well with vision loss

Person holding up sunglasses
April 16, 2024/Eye Care
9 Tips for Living Well With Geographic Atrophy

Start low-vision rehabilitation as soon as possible and see your retina specialist at least every six months

Colorblind glasses showing houses on shoreline in color
April 11, 2024/Eye Care
What We Know About Color Blind Glasses

These trendy glasses might brighten some shades and help you see the difference between colors or brightness of hues, but they won’t cure your color vision deficiency

Person relaxing on couch at home, reading on a tablet
April 5, 2024/Mental Health
5 Surefire Ways To Help You Relax Right Now

Enter relaxation mode by managing your breathing, releasing muscle tension and practicing mindfulness

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad