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Eyelid Twitching

January 6, 2017

A listener asks: What causes eyelid twitching?


Annoying eyelid twitches. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Stephanie Svec of Washington, D.C. gets annoying twitches in the muscles of her eyelids that last for days, and she’d liked to know why. We asked staff ophthalmologist Thomas Steinemann of Metrohealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio to explain.

THOMAS STEINEMANN (Metrohealth Medical Center):
The twitching in the lid is what they call a fasciculation, meaning a muscle contraction fires repeatedly. Why that happens probably has to do with neuromuscular junction, the nerves that make the muscles contract. There may be kind of misdirected signals from the nerve to the muscle. It’s an annoyance, but for the most part, it is not serious.

He says eyelid twitching is probably caused by fatigue, reading for too long, or by the stimulants in coffee or tea. He recommends seeing an ophthalmologist if the twitching occurs outside of the eyelid or never goes away. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.