Most abnormal blinking or twitching of the eye clears up quickly - within a few hours of when the symptoms appear.
The first course of action if these symptoms won’t go away is always to consult a doctor (General Practitioner).
Sometimes a doctor may not know what is causing the eye problem or prescribes treatments that do not seem to work. This is understandable, as muscle spasms have a wide range of causes and no General Practitioner (GP) can know all of them.
If the blinking or eyelid twitching does not respond to treatment, one possible cause is an eye dystonia (the medical term for this is Blepharospasm). Symptoms include increased blinking and involuntary closure of the eyelids. The symptoms of eye dystonia vary and may be one or more of the following:
1 Excessive / uncontrollable blinking
2 Twitching around the eyes where the twitching does not go away
3 Dry eyes, but where the treatment for dry eyes does not work
4 Sensitivity to bright lights and sunshine. For some people the flickering of a television or computer screen can also trigger the spasms
Symptoms may become more obvious and troublesome when tired, reading, stressed, driving, or around bright lights and sunshine, or in windy or dusty environments.
Eye dystonia commonly appears in people between the ages of 50 and 70 but does sometimes affect younger people. It is one form of dystonia – a condition that causes uncontrollable and often painful muscle contractions believed to be as a result of incorrect messages from the brain to the muscles.
Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder and, if the symptoms listed above appear, the correct course of action is for a GP to make a referral to either a specialist Ophthalmologist or a Neurologist specialising in movement disorders. If the condition is an eye dystonia, they can provide treatments that can significantly reduce the symptoms in the majority of cases.
These symptoms can have other causes so their appearance does not necessarily mean someone has eye dystonia.
Only a specialist ophthalmologist or neurologist has the knowledge and skill to diagnose and treat eye dystonia. If the patient and their doctor (GP) agree that the symptoms might possibly indicate eye dystonia then the GP should refer the patient on.
The Dystonia Society provides the information on this page as general information only. It is not intended to provide instruction and you should not rely on this information to determine diagnosis, prognosis or a course of treatment. It should not be used in place of a professional consultation with a doctor.
The Dystonia Society is not responsible for the consequences of your decisions resulting from the use of this information, including, but not limited to, your choosing to seek or not to seek professional medical care, or from choosing or not choosing specific treatment based on the information. You should not disregard the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider because of any information you receive from us. If you have any health care questions, please consult the relevant medical practitioner.
Last reviewed October 2011