Harvard Women's Health Watch

By the way, doctor: What can I do about twitching eyelids?

Q. From time to time, my eyelids twitch. What causes this, and is there anything I can do about it?

A. It's a common — and uncommonly distracting — problem. The twitches are involuntary spasms of the muscles that control the eyelids. These spasms can cause fluttering in part of the eyelid or cause the eyelid to repeatedly close and reopen. The spasms last minutes to hours and may continue intermittently for several days. We don't know what causes them, but many experts believe that fatigue, stress, eyestrain, and caffeine all play some role. More prolonged and severe twitching — the kind that causes the eyelid to completely close — may be caused by irritation on the surface of the eye (the cornea) or in tissues lining the eyelids (the conjunctiva).

There are several things you can do to ease the spasms. Close the eye and apply a warm compress — or try pulling gently on the lid. Get more sleep, and reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake. If the twitching occurs while you're reading or using a computer, relax your eyes occasionally by focusing on something in the distance. If your eyes are dry or irritated, use lubricant eyedrops such as Refresh, Systane, Thera Tears, or Visine Tears.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »