Excessive Blinking in Children

 

Parents often wonder whether they should be concerned about their child’s frequent blinking. Though usually not a cause for alarm, it’s important to consult with your optometrist or pediatrician if your child blinks a lot or has other troubling symptoms. In rare cases, persistent blinking may indicate a neurological issue or potentially result in loss of vision.

What causes excessive blinking in children?

There are four common causes for excessive blinking in young children:

Problems with the front surface of the eye

Persistent excessive blinking can be caused by discomfort on the front surface of the eye. Discomfort can be caused by foreign objects in the eye or under the eyelid, ingrown lashes, corneal scrapes, allergies, dry eyes or pink eyes. Discomfort of the eye usually leads to other symptoms, such as redness, eye rubbing, tearing or discharges.

Tics

Blinking is a very common tic and can be caused by anxiety, tiredness or boredom. Tics are very common in children ages 2 – 7 years, but can appear at any age. In most cases, tics are harmless and children can outgrow it.

Vision problems

Visual blur and a misaligned eye (squint) can lead to excessive blinking. Excessive blinking can also be seen in visual fatigue or eye strain, e.g. after screen time

Neurological causes

Excessive blinking can be caused by certain medications, typically anti-nausea, anti-depressants and anti-epileptic medication. ADHD medication commonly cause excessive blinking in young children.

Patients can develop blepharospasm as a symptom of an underlying neurological condition – this is very rare in children.

 

Diagnosing Excessive Blinking

Your optometrist will examine:

– the front of the eye for any conditions affecting the cornea, conjunctiva and eyelids

– the vision for visual blur and eye strain

– the alignment of the eye for squints

Treatment for Excessive Blinking

The prescribed treatment depends on the cause and can include:

– eye drops

– spectacles

– visual therapy

 

Excessive blinking from a tic usually doesn’t need treatment and can be monitored and observed frequently. If combined with other tic symptoms, for example coughing, throat clearing, shoulder and head movements, your paediatrician might refer to a neurologist.