Is eye twitching a sign of MS?
An eyelid twitch is usually a painless annoyance that tends to go away with a little rest and relaxation.
Rarely, eye twitching can be a sign of multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system. If eye twitching is caused by MS, it usually occurs alongside other more common signs of the disease, such as fatigue, numbness, muscle weakness and/or slurred speech.
How MS can cause eye twitching
MS causes the immune system to attack the sheath (myelin) that protects nerve fibers, creating communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. When myelin is damaged, nerves can deteriorate, causing demyelination.
Early signs of demyelination include muscle spasms and loss of vision. Considering an eye twitch is a spasm and rarely corresponds with vision loss, it’s important to know when an eye twitch is more than an annoyance. If you experience eye twitching in addition to any of the following common MS symptoms, call your doctor.
Sudden vision loss
New or increased fatigue
Numbness or tingling
Unexplained muscle weakness
Dizziness or balance issues
Each person is affected by MS differently, exhibiting a wide range of symptoms that impact various parts of the body, depending on the location of affected nerve fibers.
SEE RELATED: Is eye twitching a sign of a brain tumor?
Common eye problems caused by MS
Sometimes confused with a standard eye twitch, a spasm or “muscle jerk” in the eyelid related to MS is an involuntary quivering of a group of muscles called myoclonus. This and other eye and vision problems are often among the first symptoms noticed when patients are being diagnosed with MS.
Other common MS-related eye and vision issues include:
Prolonged double vision (diplopia)
Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time, often with pain during eye movement
What else can cause eye twitching?
Eye twitching can occur for a variety of reasons. Easily reformed habits and behaviors could be causing the irritating spasm, or it could be the sign of a more serious medical issue.
Common causes include:
Lack of sleep
When to see an eye doctor
Keep in mind that an occasional eye twitch is common. If the twitch doesn’t go away, consider booking a comprehensive eye exam if there are no other symptoms of MS.
If you are experiencing multiple symptoms of MS, the first step is meeting with a neurologist trained in MS or neuro-ophthalmology. Your doctor will make evaluations and create a treatment plan. MS is a complicated autoimmune disease that should be diagnosed by a specialist.
Page published in December 2020
Page updated in January 2021