Eyelid twitching

Dear Alice,

I am a 24-year-old female, and I would consider myself to be a very anxious person (and have always been that way). For the past few months, I have been experiencing a problem with an eyelid spasm. It's always my right eye, and the lid flutters up and down a lot, sometimes lasting for a few days. It doesn't hurt, but is very annoying! I've had people tell me that it's due to stress and/or lack of sleep. Is this true, or could it be due to some kind of nerve damage? Should I go to an eye doctor?

Dear Reader,

Fatigue, stress, and caffeine are the most common causes of benign eyelid twitching, also known as myokymia. Eyelid tremors often come and go, or they hang around for a while, then disappear for weeks or years. If you’re looking for some relief, try practicing some self-care (more on that in a bit). Though most twitches are harmless, if you start experiencing additional or prolonged symptoms, it may be time to talk with your health care provider.

The people in your life are on the right track — eyelid twitching is often caused by stress, lack of sleep, and caffeine consumption. Other triggers might include irritation of the eyelid, physical exertion, and alcohol intake. This is a common phenomenon and is typically no more than an annoyance. In fact, some people don’t even notice when it’s gone. If you feel uncomfortable or just tired of the twitching, try focusing your attention on taking care of yourself. You may try incorporating more healthy stress coping strategies into your life, avoiding or limiting your caffeine intake, and getting enough sleep. Sometimes, lubricating your eyes helps as well.

While most eye twitches are benign, there are some other more rare conditions that may be cause for concern. Essential blepharospasm is a condition where your eyes open and shut on their own, more like a facial spasm than myokymia. Similarly, hemifacial spasm is a condition that is characterized by muscle pulsation in the face, usually only on one side. If these symptoms ring true for you, seeking out some medical advice is advised.

To ditch the twitch, consider making some lifestyle changes first and see if experience some relief. If the spasms don’t go away within a week, you have redness or swelling around your eyes, twitching that involves other parts of your face, or if your upper eyelid is drooping, it may be time to make an appointment with your health care provider to take a closer look.

Here’s hoping your ailment resolves in the blink of an eye,

Last updated May 26, 2017
Originally published Mar 08, 1996