Excessive Blinking: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments

Blinking is good for your eyes. It keeps them clean and makes sure they don’t get too dry.

The number of times you blink changes with age. Newborns only blink about two times a minute. That number goes up as they grow. Teens blink around 15 times a minute. It’s about the same in adults.

Excessive blinking is when you blink more than normal. It may happen all the time or every once in a while. It’s most common in children, but it also happens in adults. Here’s what you need to know.

Causes

Lots of things can lead to excessive blinking. They include:

It doesn’t happen often, but more serious conditions could also be the cause. They include:

  • Wilson’s disease, a rare genetic condition caused by too much copper in your body
  • Multiple sclerosis, a disease of the brain and spinal cord
  • Tourette’s syndrome, a condition that causes you to make uncontrollable movements or sounds

There will likely be other signs if you have a more serious condition.

Diagnosis

You naturally blink more when you’re in pain. Bright light and changes in temperature also cause it. You blink more when you’re talking or nervous, too. But if it happens a lot, you should see an eye doctor, also called an ophthalmologist. The doctor will:

  • Carefully look at your eyes to see how they line up and move
  • Look closely at the surface of your eye with a special microscope called a slit lamp
  • Ask you to read an eye chart to check your vision

They may send you to another kind of doctor for more testing if they think it’s more than an eye problem.

Treatment

Excessive blinking isn’t usually connected to a serious health condition. In this case, it may go away on its own without treatment. If you need treatment, the options depend on the cause.

The doctor might prescribe eyedrops, ointment, or other medicines if your excessive blinking is related to an eye injury, infection, allergies, or inflammation. A patch might also help your eye heal.

If you have an ingrown eyelash or something else is in your eye, the doctor can get it out. Glasses may help if it’s a vision problem, like nearsightedness. They may recommend eye exercises or surgery if your eyes need to be straightened.

The doctor may send you to a specialist if your excessive blinking is related to stress, anxiety, or tics.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Whitney Seltman on July 15, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus: “Excessive Blinking in Children.”

Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus: “Episodic Excessive Blinking in Children.”

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “What causes constant blinking?” “Excessive blinking in children.”

Ophthalmology: “Excessive Blinking in Childhood: A Prospective Evaluation of 99 Children.”

National Organization for Rare Disorders: “Wilson Disease.”

Clinical Neurophysiology: “There is still a role for the blink reflex in the diagnosis and follow-up of multiple sclerosis.”

CDC: “Diagnosing Tic Disorders.”

Mayo Clinic: “Multiple sclerosis.”

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