Many times we have experienced the abnormal blinking of an eyelid. It can be really uncomfortable if it lasts for a prolonged period. It can happen at any time of the day and last from a few minutes to several days. Mostly, these eye twitches are harmless, causing slight annoyance but do not affect the vision.
What is Eye Twitching?
An involuntary blinking of the eye is called eye twitching. Usually, they are harmless. But if they last longer, it can be very uncomfortable and may affect one’s vision. It typically happens when a person is tired or has consumed a lot of caffeine. Eye twitching is mostly common among middle-aged or older women.
The frequency of eye twitching varies from person to person. Generally, the upper eyelid twitches. Sometimes, both twitch at the same time, shutting the eyelid partially. In addition, other symptoms seen are:
- Dry eyes
- Facial spasms
- Sensitivity to light
- Irritation and itching in eyes
- Increased frequency of blinking
Most of these symptoms go away when you relax, take a nap, or focus on a difficult task. It is observed that involving yourself in activities, such as talking, singing, focusing on another part of your body, or performing physical exercise, makes the eye twitch go away.
Reason for Eye Twitches
One-time eyelid twitches happen because of spasms. These spasms arise from the electrical activity in the nerve cells of the brain that do not last long. If it lasts long, it can be because of one of the following reasons:
- Too much caffeine
- Disrupted sleep cycles
- Too much stress
- Dry eyes
- Eye strain – Exposure to a computer screen for a prolonged period can cause the eye muscle to strain and twitch.
- Nutritional deficiencies – The deficiency of magnesium and calcium can cause the twitching of muscles.
- Allergies – Allergy to any substance can cause dry, itchy eyes with inflammation or watery eyes. Rubbing the eyelids can further cause the histamine to spread into the tissues, resulting in an eye twitch.
- Ocular myokymia – It happens if a person has too much caffeine, is stressed, or has blood circulation problems.
- Blepharospasm – This refers to recurrent eye twitching where both the eyelids twitch at the same time. It is a neurological disorder that causes issues with the facial muscles around your eyes. If not treated early, the situation can worsen, affecting the vision. The nerve cells that regulate motor function play a role in controlling these twitches.
- Hemifacial spasm – These eye twitches generally start as a simple one at a time eye twitch that slowly spreads to the jaws, cheeks, neck muscles, and facial muscles on the same side as that of the eye. It happens when the facial nerve is irritated by the pressure of neighboring blood vessels.
- Meige syndrome – This is a neurological disorder that involves concurrent twitches in cheeks, mouth, tongue, lips, etc.
- Tardive dyskinesia – This refers to the involuntary writhing movements of the tongue, lips, or mouth with eye twitches.
- Tourette syndrome – This refers to a more regular twitch accompanied by a vocal tic.
- Physical injuries – Physical injuries like a scratched cornea or inward folded eyelids can cause eye twitch.
- Side effects of drugs – Certain drugs used to treat mental disorders can cause the eye to twitch.
When to See a Doctor
Generally, the twitches go away on their own with relaxation, decreased intake of caffeine, and stress management. You should see a doctor if:
- If the twitches do not go away within 2 weeks.
- Twitching causes the eyelid to close partially or fully.
- Twitching spreads to other parts of the face.
- You have itchy or inflamed eyes.
- You have drooping eyelids.
Your doctor can ask for a brain scan and eye exam and rule out the cause for eye twitching. They might ask you about your medical history, medications, injuries you have suffered in the past, etc.
How to Prevent Eye Twitches
If you have frequent incidences of eye twitches lasting from a few minutes to a few hours, you can prevent it by keeping a check on:
- Caffeine consumption
- Sleep cycle
- Stress management
- Keeping the eyes moist using hydrating eye drops
- Protecting the eye from pollution by using sunglasses
- Heat or cold therapy
Complications Arising from an Eye Twitch
If the eye twitching is very severe, it can damage the eyelids, affecting your vision.
Also, it can cause other symptoms such as:
- Drooping of the upper eyelid
- Eyebrows drooping lower than normal
- Development of extra skin on the upper or lower lid
- Unusual folding of the upper eyelid
- Causing other parts of the face to start twitching
Treatment of Eye Twitching
Eye twitching when severe can be treated with the following:
- Botox injections – It weakens the twitching muscles, causing them to relax. The effect lasts for three months. If the spasms persist, the treatment needs to be continued.
- Oral medications – These oral medications cause the whole body muscles to relax, thus alleviating twitching.
- Myectomy – A part of the muscles or nerves are removed from the eyelid area, thus stopping the eye twitch.
- Acupuncture techniques to get specific muscles in the body to relax.
- Chiropractic therapy
- Nutrition therapy
Twitches are normally quite harmless and mostly related to lifestyle. Making lifestyle changes can resolve the twitching. If there is an underlying medical condition, it is best to contact your healthcare provider at the earliest for investigations .
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does taking medication for a mental condition cause twitching?
No, there are certain medicines with side effects. If you have doubts, you can approach your healthcare provider for clarity.
How can physical activity reduce twitching?
The lack of physical exercise can cause poor blood circulation reducing normal oxygen level in human body. Hence, exercising can reduce twitching.