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When should you worry about an eye twitch?

woman worried about her eye twitching

It’s not uncommon to experience an occasional eye twitch. Though the tiny spasm in your eyelid is, without a doubt, obnoxious, it’s usually harmless and will resolve on its own after a few days.

An eye twitch is typically triggered by an increase in caffeine consumption, stress or eye strain, making eye twitching treatment rather simple — reduce or remove the trigger. However, there are certain circumstances where a twitchy eye is caused by something more serious than too much coffee.

When to worry about eye twitching

If you experience any of the symptoms below in addition to an eye twitch (or in regard to your twitch), you should contact your eye doctor:

  • Light sensitivity

  • Abnormal eye redness, swelling or discharge

  • Eyelid drooping

  • Twitching that persists longer than a week and does not respond to recommended lifestyle changes

  • Each twitch is severe enough to cause the eye to close

  • Twitching that becomes stronger and/or more frequent over time

  • Other parts of the face and/or body are also twitching

  • Difficulty opening the affected eye

  • Numbness or difficulty moving or speaking

These symptoms, especially if severe, could indicate an underlying neurological problem. For this reason, the moment you notice their presence, it’s recommended that you schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. The sooner you are assessed properly, the sooner treatment can be administered.

Conditions that can cause an eye twitch

Though rare — and if present alongside other symptoms — it is possible for an eye twitch to be a sign of a more serious condition, such as:

Dystonia — Movement disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions. Types include cervical dystonia, which affects neck muscles; and blepharospasm, a form of focal dystonia, which can cause eye or eyebrow twitching.

Tourette syndrome — Condition that produces repetitive, uncontrolled muscular or vocal tics. Tics usually present themselves starting in childhood (between 2 and 15 years of age).

Bell’s palsy — Sudden, often temporary, weakness of the facial muscles that make half the face appear to droop. Symptoms of Bell's palsy typically improve within a few weeks, though some people experience them for life.

Parkinson’s disease — Condition of the nervous system that affects movement, either through stiffness or tremors. Symptoms usually start mild and progress over time.

Multiple sclerosis — Neurological disease where an individual’s immune system attacks and deteriorates the protective outer layer of nerves. Multiple sclerosis inhibits the brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body.

If you experience an eye twitch with any of the other symptoms listed here, it’s critical that you consult a medical professional for proper examination and diagnosis.

The best way to detect conditions early and keep your eyes healthy is to have regular eye exams and reach out to your eye doctor promptly if you have any sudden or dramatic changes in your vision.

READ MORE: Is eye twitching a sign of stroke?

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Note: This article is strictly meant to provide information. It should not be used to diagnose any conditions.

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