What Causes Involuntary Eye Muscle Spasms?

Involuntary muscle spasm of the eyes is a relatively common condition that tends to occur without warning and causes no harm. Most people would describe the condition as a mild irritation that goes away within a few days. Occasionally, eye spasms are an indication of much more serious medical condition, especially if spasms are accompanied by other symptoms.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Mild Eye Spasms

It is not unusual for people to experience occasional eye spasms. Most often an eye spasm, or twitching of the eyelid, is related to lack of sleep, excess caffeine consumption, stress and irritation of the eye or eyelid 1. Minor eye spasms go away untreated and rarely require medical attention. People experiencing eye spasms can further relieve symptoms by getting more sleep, drinking less caffeine and using eye protection to avoid irritants.


University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center defines blepharospasm as an involuntary contraction of one or both of the eyes 2. The chronic uncontrolled twitching of the eyelids is called benign essential blepharospasm. The exact cause of this condition is unknown; however, the National Eye Institute reports blepharospasm is associated with abnormal function of the basal ganglion, the part of the brain that coordinates movement 3. Blepharospasm is often the result of brain injury or neurological conditions.

Disorders of the Nervous System

While rare, eye spasms can be an indication of serious disorders of the brain and nervous system. According to the MayoClinic.com, eye spasms when present with other symptoms can be a sign of conditions such as Bell’s palsy, Parkinson’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome 1. People experiencing eye spasms that last longer than one week, or affect other parts of the face, should seek medical attention.