What Are the Causes of Excessive Eye Blinking?

Updated November 21, 2016

People sometimes worry about excessive blinking, particularly in children. The phenomenon usually has a simple explanation, but a worried person should seek advice, particularly if it appears unexpectedly. Blinking serves as a protective mechanism, which combined with tearing helps to remove debris from the surface of the eye. People normally blink about 15 or 16 times a minute, but excessive blinking might increase these numbers a great deal.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes often cause excessive blinking. A person may also suffer from an allergy, such as hay fever, which can make the eyes itchy and sore. A doctor can readily diagnose a local inflammation such as this and direct treatment towards the cause of the allergy or inflammation.


A nervous tic, particularly in children, can cause excessive blinking. The child may then develop a habit, setting a pattern which he may find difficult to break. In adults, stress and anxiety can cause excessive blinking.


Certain medication, such as Ritalin, may cause side effects that include excessive blinking. Withdrawal symptoms from some medication, particularly benzodiazepines, can also cause excessive blinking.

Neurological Problems

Rarely, an underlying neurological disease can cause excessive blinking. Other symptoms, such as other involuntary movements or paralysis, may further suggest a neurological problem.

Absence Seizure

Children sometimes stare, or blink excessively because of a form of epilepsy. Parents who suspect this should take the child to a specialist.

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About the Author

Noreen Wainwright has been writing since 1997. Her work has appeared in "The Daily Telegraph," "The Guardian," "The Countryman" and "The Lady." She has a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences from Liverpool Polytechnic and a postgraduate law degree from Staffordshire University.