Eyelid twitching: causes, treatments and prevention

what causes eye twitching

Eye twitching and spasms are very common and, thankfully, rarely tend to be a result of something serious. However, although they may not be painful, it doesn’t mean that twitching eyelids can’t be very annoying and uncomfortable to live with.

Typically, it’s just the lower eyelid that twitches, however in some cases the upper lid or both of them can twitch.

A number of lifestyle factors can cause eye twitching, including:

  • Stress
  • Allergies
  • Tiredness
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Eye strain
  • Dry eyes
  • Smoking

These are a few of the more common causes of eye twitching. However, there are some more serious causes of eye twitching and if eye twitching becomes a concern, it is advised that you contact your GP.

How long can an eye twitch last?

An eye twitch can last anywhere between a few days or weeks. It shouldn't last more than a few weeks and if it does, you should consult your optician or GP immediately. 

When should I be worried about eye twitching?

Eye twitching may also be a concern if you experience any of the following:

  • Red or swollen eyes
  • Your eyelid closing completely every time it twitches. If you're experiencing eyelid spasms strong enough to close both eyelids, this could be a condition known as blepharospasm.
  • You find it hard to open your eye
  • The twitching lasts longer than a few weeks
  • You have twitching on your face and other parts of your body.
  • Your eyes are looking droopy

Is eye twitching a sign of something serious?

Although rare, twitching eyelids can be early signs of certain brain and nervous system disorders. These can include:

  • Parkinson Disease
  • Bell's Palsy
  • Cervical Dystonia
  • Dystonia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Oromandibular Dystonia and facial Dystonia

Certain drugs, particularly medication used for treating Parkinson's Disease can cause side effects which include eye twitching. However, in some cases, eye twitching can also be an early sign of a chronic movement disorder which is usually accompanied by other facial spasms.

How do you stop a twitching eye?

If your eye twitching is the result of one of the following causes, it’s advisable to follow the steps we’ve laid out for treating the issue.


Stress

Eye twitching can sometimes be as a result of too much stress. There are plenty of ways you can bring down your stress levels, such as breathing exercises, short walks and enjoying more relaxation time.


Allergies

Eye allergies release histamine into the eyes, which leads to swelling, irritation, itchiness and sometimes twitching. Most allergies are caused by agents such as pollen and dust, however a new cleaning product in your regime can often be the case behind an eye allergy, and eye twitching as a result. Simply removing this cleaning product from your life can help your eye twitching to stop.

Or, in the case of allergies caused by dust or pollen, your doctor may be able to prescribe you some antihistamine eye drops to relieve the symptoms.


Tiredness

A lack of sleep often leads to twitchy eyes, amongst a number of other symptoms. If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, just try to catch up on some sleep and you should see your eye twitching disappear.


Caffeine

Unfortunately, caffeine can’t be the answer to eye twitching caused by tiredness, as caffeine often triggers the condition itself. A way around this is to cut back on how much caffeine you’re consuming to see if it has a positive effect on your eyes.


Alcohol

Excessive alcohol intake has been known to cause eyes to twitch. That’s why it’s always advisable to drink responsibly, and to limit your alcohol intake in order to stop your eyes from twitching and spasming.


Eye strain

Eye strain can result if you’re overworking your eyes. Focusing in poor light conditions and extensive digital screen use can trigger pain, sensitivity to light, dry eye and even eye twitching.

Ways to reduce eye strain include gentle eye massages, practised blinking during screen use and going to visit your optician to see if your prescription may have changed.


Dry eyes

Dry eyes offer a number of uncomfortable symptoms, such as red eyes, grittiness, irritation and sometimes twitching. Applying some eye drops to your eyes can help restore the moisture by producing artificial tears to stop the twitching.

If this is a recurring condition, it could be a good idea to speak with your optician or GP regarding a longer-term solution to your dry eye.

Botox to stop eye twitching

There are rare cases when eyelid twitches can be persistent and won't go away. In this instance Botox injections can be used to treat the involuntary contractions in the eyelid.

However, whilst Botox can be used to relieve spasms for several months, the effects eventually wear off and a top up of injections is usually required.

Quick links

How to get rid of tired eyes

Computer eye strain: Symptoms and solutions

Does drinking coffee damage your vision?