Blepharospasm (eye twitch)

In this Article +

Blepharospasm (or eye twitch), also known as benign essential blepharospasm, is the involuntary twitching of the eyelids, caused by a dysfunction of the seventh cranial nerve. Usually it lasts just for a few minutes, hours, or days, but in severe cases may be chronic, and in rare cases, it may be difficult to open the eyes.

Certain nutrients such as magnesium malate chelate may help alleviate symptoms of Blepharospasm and preserve vision.

The incidence of Blepharospasm is as follows:

  • Affects approximately 25,000 people in the United States.
  • Usually occurs in individuals between the ages of 50-60 years old.
  • Women have three times greater incidence than men.
  • May occur in presence of stressful situations, bright lights and fatigue.
  • Usually happens more during the day, and gets better during sleep.


  • Eyelid twitching
  • Excessive blinking
  • Light sensitivity
  • Dry eyes


Stress and irritation in the eye seem to be the most likely causes of minor eye twitching. There may be a connection with dry eyes and light sensitivity. Some drugs may contribute to the incidence, as well as hormone replacement therapy. Another possible cause is withdrawal from benzodiazepine drugs such as some drugs for insomnia, anxiety, convulsions, alcohol withdrawal and muscle spasms. Some health conditions may increase the incidence of eye twitching, such as multiple sclerosis, AIDS, TB, Parkinson's, Tourette's syndrome, cerebral palsy, tardive dyskinesia, some infections, and some brain injuries or tumors.

Conventional Treatment

Botulinum toxin is the approved medical treatment in the United States and Canada. It weakens the muscles by blocking the nerve impulses transmitted from the nerve endings of the muscles.

The benefits begin 1-14 days after treatment and lasts for an average of three to four months. The success rate is up to 90% in stopping the spasms (twitching).

The side effects of this treatment may be drooping eyelids, blurred vision, double vision and excessive treatment. Side effects are usually short-term. Speak to your doctor for more details.

Drugs - no specific drug has been shown to be effective as of this time. Consult your neurologist for possible new medications.

Surgery - as a possible last resort - protractor myectomy is most effective for severe cases. This procedure removes the muscles responsible for closing the eyelids.

Self Help

Because stress is a factor, sometimes paying attention to issues causing stress and self- massage can be helpful.

  • Massaging the cheek, jaw and gum muscles can sometimes bring immediate relief for mild cases.
    • If you feel inside your mouth, you'll find the masseter muscle, a hard muscle near the back which moves up and down vertically.
    • Use your pointer finger at the top end of the masseter muscle, next to the upper gum and begin begin pressing firmly checking for tender places.
    • Press any tender spots for about 30 seconds, not too hard, just as much as you can stand. More pain is not helpful.
    • Work your way around the top of this muscle, pressing any tender spots.
    • In the same way, find tender spots and press for 30 seconds along the upper back gum line.
    • Generally it will take not more than 3-4 days for relief.
  • If possible, avoid drugs that contribute to or aggrevate blepharospasm.
  • Stop caffeine intake, specifically coffee, tea, chocolate or any soft drinks with caffeine.
  • Stop smoking
  • Dark glasses are helpful for your light sensitivity
  • Make sure your computer setup uses proper ergonomics
  • Use natural light if possible
  • Take steps to reduce chronic stress at your job, and manage your stress with meditation or yoga

Related Conditions

Blepharospasm News

Takes a moment to load ...


Benign Essential Research Foundation