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Blepharospasm

Twitching eyelid is also known as blepharospasm. It is a type of dystonia, a condition defined by sudden, irregular, involuntary muscle spasms. Dystonia can affect the muscles of the eyelid, causing abnormal movement.

Twitching Eyelid: What You Need to Know

  • This is a common condition that may run in families.

  • The exact cause of twitching eyelid is not known, but the condition originates in the motor nerves of the brain.

  • Dry eyes, stress, fatigue and eye strain can cause an episode, as can certain medications.

  • Twitching eyelid is likely to be temporary and most cases get better on their own. Medication can address more persistent blepharospasm.

Twitching Eyelid Symptoms

The condition affects the muscles in the eyelid and causes persistent, intermittent eyelid twitching or involuntary blinking. Mild eyelid twitching can feel more noticeable than it actually is—observers are not likely to notice a twitching eyelid in another person.

In more severe cases, the spasms can result in forceful eyelid closure that lasts for seconds, minutes or even hours.

The person’s eyes may feel dry, irritated or sensitive to light. Symptoms may get more noticeable over time, such as during the course of a day.

What causes twitching eyelid?

The problem can be caused or aggravated by a range of factors, including:

  • Stress

  • Eye strain

  • Certain drugs and medications, including caffeine

  • Dry or irritated eye

  • Insufficient sleep

Twitching Eyelid Diagnosis

If episodes of eyelid twitching are bothersome, a doctor may be consulted to rule out other eye problems such as blepharitis (inflamed eyelids) or nervous system disorders such as:

Treatment for Twitching Eyelid

Mild cases of twitching eye are self-limiting, meaning they resolve on their own, especially if the person rests and avoids caffeine.

Some people use sensory tricks to temporarily alleviate the spasms, including chewing gum, touching a particular part of the face around the eyes, whistling, humming or even singing.

If the attacks are frequent, the doctor may recommend one or more muscle relaxing medications.

Botulinum toxin is the most effective treatment for persistent blepharospasm. A very small amount of the medicine is injected under the skin around the eyes on both sides of the face. The injections take effect over days, usually peaking within one or two weeks. The toxin relaxes and weakens the little muscles just underneath the skin, preventing spasms.

The injections take less than 15 minutes, and because the effect wears off in about three months, the injections may be repeated. Side effects include minor bruising at the injection sites, temporary eyelid drooping or double vision, although these are relatively uncommon.

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