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What causes eye twitching?

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Quick Answer

Twitching eyes, or "blepharospasm," according to WebMD, is a painless, generally benign spasm that can be caused by a variety of factors, but sometimes it has no apparent cause. A tendency toward eye twitching seems to run in families though no genetic source is known. Environmental causes include stress, lack of sleep and drug or alcohol consumption.

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Full Answer

Doctors divide twitching eyes into three categories: minor eyelid twitching, benign essential blepharospasm and hemifacial spasms. Minor eyelid twitching, according to WebMD, is usually transient and almost always harmless. Its causes are not always obvious. Benign essential blepharospasm often involves both eyes and often begins with excessive blinking. As with minor eyelid twitch, benign essential blepharospasm is associated with stress and fatigue though it can also be triggered by exposure to wind and airborne particles.

Hemifacial spasms are more serious, notes WebMD, and they can be the sign of a serious medical condition, such as Bell's palsy. In contrast to the other two types of eye twitches, hemifacial spasms usually involve repeated, rapid contortions of one half of the face. Sometimes, such spasms are a sign that an artery in the skull is pressing against one of the cranial nerves that runs to the face.

Eye twitching is most often not a health concern, but in rare cases, it can signal that a person is experiencing an underlying nerve or brain affliction. Parkinson's disease, Bell's palsy, dystonia and Tourette syndrome may cause uncontrollable eye twitching. Healthline advises people with chronic twitching in one or both eyes to visit a healthcare professional to assess additional symptoms and determine a cause or treatment plan.

Eye discharge, eyelid drooping, twitching in other areas of the face and twitching that causes one or both eyes to shut completely are causes for concern and warrant immediate medical attention. For benign conditions, Healthline recommends applying a warm compress to the eye, cutting back on caffeine consumption, practicing healthy sleeping habits and using over-the-counter drops to maintain adequate eye lubrication

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