A common eye complaint we hear about a lot this time of year is eyelid twitches. You’ve most likely experienced them yourself. Eyelid twitches are uncontrolled movement of an eyelid that is caused by involuntary contractions of muscles around the eye. You can’t control them, and the twitches can be very annoying. Whether it’s caused by lack of rest (too much holiday shopping?), studying for final exams, or some other cause, you need to know if it is serious and what can be done to help it go away.
The technical term for an eyelid twitch is Blepharospasm.
This term is usually used when the twitch is more severe, causing partial
or complete closure of the eyelid with each spasm.
Serious cases, or major Blephasospasm, involve both eyes.
Serious or Not Serious?
Twitches affect the stability of the eye and can cause “jittery” vision. Your vision can be affected even though the issue isn’t with the eyeball itself. Almost all eyelid twitches are painless and are not a serious problem, or an indication of an underlying condition or disease. However, in rare cases, a twitching eyelid may be an early sign of a chronic neuromuscular or movement disorder (such as Tourette’s syndrome or Parkinson’s disease), especially if facial spasms or other body movement problems develop.
Eyelid twitches can happen to anyone, at any time, and most occur without an obvious cause. Possible contributing factors that have been identified include:
- Stress or anxiety
- Fatigue; inadequate sleep
- Eye strain
- Dry eyes
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids)
- Nutritional factors
Also, eyelid twitching can be a side effect of certain medications, particularly drugs used to treat epilepsy and psychosis.
How to Stop an Eyelid Twitch
Eyelid twitching usually resolves on its own without medical treatment. But if you have an annoying, recurring eyelid twitch, you might want to consider these possible remedies:
- Practice relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing.
- Get more sleep.
- Limit your consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
- Stop smoking.
- Reduce eyestrain by taking frequent breaks from computer use and texting.
- Use artificial tears several times a day to lubricate your eyes.
- If your eyes or eyelids are chronically red and irritated, see your eye doctor.
Sometimes, applying a warm or cold compress to the affected eyelid can temporarily or permanently stop the twitching.
When in Doubt, Come See Us!
If you suspect eye strain may be causing or contributing to your eyelid twitching and you haven’t had an eye exam in more than a year, schedule an appointment to see if you need vision correction or a change to your current eyeglasses or contact lens prescription. If you spend several hours a day working at a computer, sometimes specially prescribed computer glasses can relieve eyestrain better than general-purpose eyewear. Discuss this with our eye doctor during your exam.
Allergies cause eye irritation, watery eyes, and itchy swollen eyelids. Avoid rubbing your eyes if you are suffering from allergies, as this releases a substance called histamine into your tear film. Some researchers believe histamine may contribute to further eye irritation that can cause eyelid twitching. During your eye exam, we can discuss the pros and cons of using these types of eye drops.
Nutritional imbalances, such as a lack of magnesium, might also cause eyelid twitching and other muscular spasms. Though there may be insufficient research to verify such claims, it’s always a good idea to look at your eating habits and make sure you are maintaining a healthful diet and staying well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Regardless of the reason for your eyelid twitch, we know how annoying it is. If the twitching is frequent and persists for more than a week, or worsens with time, call us at 407-893-6222 and schedule an appointment. We’re here for you and will do our best to take the worry out of any vision concern, twitches and all!
Portions of this article provided by AllAboutVision.com ©2013.