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You know there are those times your eyelid starts to twitch? Does it mean anything serious? The phenomenon is known as “myokymia” and is generally harmless. It is when a muscle contraction has a rippling effect. A twitch usually occurs in the upper lid, but it can occur in both the upper and lower lids. These twitches or spasms typically happen every few seconds for a minute or two. It can happen once or twice, or reoccur over several days.

A twitching eyelid is often a sign of something else, primarily stress. Things such as eye strain, lack of sleep, physical exertion, eyelid strain, or use of tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine. They’re rarely a sign of a serious problem. Most eyelid spasms go away without treatment in a few days or weeks. If they don’t go away, you can try to eliminate or decrease potential causes.  Get more sleep, drink less coffee, drink less alcohol, and cut back on your smoking.

Another reason behind your eye twitching could be allergies. People who have allergies in their eyes can experience watering issues, swelling, and itching. As the eyes are rubbed, a histamine releases into the tissues of the lid and in tears. Often, a histamine can cause eyelid twitching. Further, antihistamine eye drops can help fight allergies, cutting back on twitching issues.

If the spasms become chronic, you may have what’s known as “benign essential blepharospasm,” which is the name for chronic and uncontrollable winking or blinking. This condition typically affects both eyes. Benign essential blepharospasm is more common in women than men. The cause of this is unknown, but the following things may make the spasms worse. Inflammation of the eyelid (blepharitis), pinkeye (conjunctivitis), dry eye, fatigue, stress, tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine.

If the eyelid twitches persist, they can be a symptom of something more serious, such as a nerve or brain disorder, such as Bell’s palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, or Tourette’s syndrome. Undiagnosed corneal scratches can also cause eyelid twitches. If you think you have an eye injury, see your physician immediately and schedule a comprehensive eye exam with us as soon as possible.