Eye twitching results from spasms in the muscles around the eyes and eyelids and typically occurs in one eye at a time. Possible causes include stress, caffeine, alcohol, tiredness and eye strain. An eye twitch is usually nothing serious and clears up with rest, although in some rare cases, persistent eye twitching can indicate a more serious problem.
Here, we'll explain common causes of eye twitching, ways to prevent or resolve eye twitching and when to seek medical help.
Why does my eye keep twitching?
There are many different reasons for eye twitching, from irritated nerves and stress to eye strain and vision problems. It's relatively common to get eye twitching every now and then, and it usually resolves on its own. You may experience eye twitching in one or both eyes.
Sometimes, people experience an eye twitch (or tic) that persists for days or even weeks. If your eye twitching continues for more than two weeks, it could be a sign of something more serious, and you should see your eye doctor or GP for medical advice (Source: NHS). In some severe cases, you may need to see a neurologist (Source: NORD).
What causes eye twitching?
There are many causes of eye twitching, some more common than others. Eye twitching that is not caused by disease is known as myokymia (Source: American Optometric Association). Myokymia usually affects the lower eyelid more than the upper eyelid. Scientists do not fully understand the causes of myokymia, but they know things like stress and caffeine are risk factors (Source: Eyelid Myokymia).
Common causes or risk factors of eye twitching include:
What is blepharospasm?
Blepharospasm is a medical condition characterised by frequent, persistent eye spasms that can cause the eye to close, sometimes for hours. Its full medical name is benign essential blepharospasm (BEB).
BEB is a rare neurological movement disorder (dystonia), and although the exact cause of the condition is unknown, it seems to have a genetic link.
Treatments for benign essential blepharospasm include oral medications, botulinum toxin injections (botox) to weaken the eyelid muscle or eye surgery to remove part of the eyelid muscles (myectomy) (Source: American Journal of Ophthalmology).
In some cases, BEB can overlap with other neurological conditions that affect the facial muscles and facial nerves, like Bell's palsy and hemifacial spasm (Source: National Organization for Rare Disorders).
Left eye twitching v right eye twitching
You are more likely to experience one eye twitching than both eyes twitching simultaneously. It's common to have a random eye twitch on the upper or lower eyelid, and some people experience the corner of their eye twitching. It's usually of no significance exactly which part of the eye has a spasm.
Under eye twitching
Twitching can occur in the upper or lower eyelid, although muscle spasm in the bottom eyelid is more common. The exact location of the muscle spasm is typically nothing to worry about. However, if you have any other symptoms, such as drooping, closed eyelid or an unusual discharge, always get it checked out by an ophthalmologist or doctor.
How do you stop eye twitching?
While an eye twitch is usually nothing serious, it can be irritating and distracting, so you could try to resolve it yourself at home. If your eye spasm persists, your doctor may offer you eye twitching treatment, like medication, botox injection or surgery.
Ideas for how to stop eye twitching include:
When to get medical help for eye twitching
In most cases, eye twitching is nothing to worry about, and you can try to resolve it at home. However, frequent eye twitches or a persistent eye twitch or spasm that doesn't seem to end could indicate something more serious, like a nervous system disorder or tumour.
If you have any of the following, see your GP or optometrist for advice:
- Continuous eye twitching for two weeks or more
- Facial spasms or twitching in other parts of the face or body
- Redness, swelling or signs of infection in the twitching eye that could indicate blepharitis (infection of the eyelids)
- Vision changes, like double vision
- Eye twitching with headache, neck pain or migraine
You should always consult your doctor if you think your medication may be causing your eye twitching.
Frequently asked questions
Most eye twitching resolves by itself and is nothing to worry about. You can try to reduce eye twitching by getting good sleep, limiting caffeine intake and stress, and living a healthy lifestyle. However, in some rare cases, eye twitching can be a sign of a more serious problem, so always get checked out by your doctor if the eye twitching isn't going away or you're concerned.
Medically reviewed by: The Royal College of Ophthalmologists on 18/10/2022
Edited by: Nick Astbury FRCS FRCOphth FRCP
Clinical Associate Professor
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists champions excellence in the practice of ophthalmology and is the only professional membership body for medically qualified ophthalmologists. The RCOphth is unable to offer direct advice to patients. If you’re concerned about the health of your eyes, you should seek medical advice from your GP, optometrist or ophthalmologist.