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What Causes Eye Flickering?

Optometry

Eye flickering is an involuntary twitching of the eyelid. It is also known as blepharospasm. Blepharospasm is the term used to refer to abnormal blinking or twitching of the eyelids brought about by uncontrollable contractions of the muscles around the eyelids.

Eye flickering can occur in either eye at any time. It often has no specific cause and is not life threatening, though if it persists or worsens you should consult an eye doctor. Eye flickering often begins with excessive blinking which may occur if you are exposed to very bright sunlight or bright artificial light, if you are stressed or if your eyes are fatigued. Sometimes the spasms may reoccur throughout the day, increasing in length as you become more tired. In extreme cases the spasms may become so strong that it is difficult to see through the eye. Eye flickering often resolves after a good nights sleep.

Possible Causes of Eye Flickering

  • Bright light
  • Stress
  • Eye Fatigue
  • Too much caffeine
  • Some medications
  • Irritation of the cornea or inner eyelids
  • Too long in front of computer screen
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Neurological disorder
  • Allergic reaction
  • Withdrawal from benzodiazepines
  • Pinched nerve
  • Eye strain
  • Possible genetic factors

How to Prevent Eye Flickering

  • Get plenty of regular sleep
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Use eye drops to prevent dry eyes

The twitches may last a number of hours, several days or sometimes a week, usually no longer. Medications are available to stop eye flickering but they are often unpredictable and their results do not last long. If the eye flickering becomes very severe or persistent, the eye doctor may prescribe a small injection of botulinum toxin (BOTOX therapy) to control the spasms. There is a surgical procedure known as myectomy, which removes some of the muscle tissue and nerves from the eyelids. This surgery has been known to improve the condition in 75-85 percent of sufferers.

You should seek immediate medical attention if:

  • Your eye flickering continues for one week or longer
  • The eye flickering is so severe that it completely closes your eyelid
  • The muscle spasms spread to other parts of your face
  • Your eye becomes painful or swollen
  • You have excessive tearing or discharge from your eye
  • Your upper eyelid begins to droop

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