Eyelid twitching happens when there is involuntary movement and spasm in the eyelids. Commonly, the upper eyelids are affected but there are cases when the bottom eyelids also twitch.
Most cases of eyelid twitching are harmless and subside after a short while. But there are also instances when it lasts for a few weeks or months, becomes chronic, and disrupts vision and the ability to perform activities.
The severity of eyelid twitching depends on what causes it.
What Causes Eyelid Twitching?
There are several causes of eyelid twitching, and they range from common lifestyle habits to more severe reasons such as underlying health conditions. Addressing these causes is the first step of treating the condition. Let’s look at each of them.
Eyestrain happens when your eye works too much and doesn’t get enough rest. It occurs when you’re in front of the computer for hours, looking at mobile devices for a long time, or if you lose sleep. Sometimes, the eyes get stressed when they exert extra effort because you need a change in eyeglasses or contact lenses.
If you think you experience eyelid twitching due to eyestrain, make sure to relax your eyes. Take breaks in between work hours and, get enough hours of sleep.
The body can perform a lot of functions, but it also needs to rest. You know that you’ve been working way too hard when your eyelids twitch. So allot enough time for relaxation and make sure to catch up on sleep.
Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeinated drinks can help us get through the most hectic mornings and alcoholic beverages can help us relax at night after a tiring day. However these drinks can cause spasms on the eyelids, so you may want to consider cutting back your caffeine and alcohol intake.
Dry eyes can also trigger eyelid twitching. They are common among computer users, but they can also result from other factors such as medication, contact lenses, alcohol consumption, and stress.
Side Effects of Medication
People who are getting treated for conditions such as epilepsy and psychosis can experience eyelid twitching as a side effect of their medications.
Eyelid twitching can also result from an irritation that occurs on the surface of the eye and the membranes that line the eyelids. Environmental factors such as wind, pollution, and sunlight can also aggravate the eyes.
Symptoms of Eye Conditions
Eyelid twitching may also indicate an underlying eye condition such as light sensitivity, pink eye, and inflammation of the eyelids.
Sign of brain or nerve disorder
In rare cases, eyelid twitching may be a symptom of brain or nerve disorders such as Bell’s palsy, dystonia, Parkinson’s disease, and Tourette’s syndrome.
What are the Different Types of Eyelid Twitching?
There are three types of eyelid twitching and they vary on severity and impact on a person’s vision.
Mild or Minor Eyelid Twitching
Minor eyelid twitching is caused by lifestyle changes such as stress, caffeine and alcohol intake, eyestrain, and the like. It is typically harmless, manageable, and doesn’t cause too much discomfort.
Minor eyelid twitching typically subsides after a short while and doesn’t cause major interference with vision and the ability to work and perform other activities. More so, it can be easily addressed through small changes in a person’s routine and diet.
Benign Essential Blepharospasm
Benign essential blepharospasm is a condition where an abnormal blinking or spasms occur on the eyelids. It is different from minor eyelid twitching, because it can become severe to the point of visual impairment, facial spasms, and difficulty in keeping your eyes open.
The early symptoms of benign essential blepharospasm are dry eyes, increased blinking and irritation due to wind, pollution, sunlight and other irritants. It usually occurs during mid to late adulthood and affects 20,000-50,000 people in the United States. For still unknown reasons, this condition is more prevalent among women.
Hemifacial Spasm is a rare condition involving not just the eyelids, but also other muscles around the mouth, which occurs when an artery presses on a nerve in the facial muscles.
When a hemifacial spasm occurs, only one side of the face is affected.
When to See a Doctor
Eyelid twitching may or may not be a sign of a major health condition. However, it becomes worrisome if it disrupts your vision or cause unmanageable discomfort. If you experience involuntary movement and spams on your lids, observe your symptoms and see a doctor when:
- The twitching goes on for more than one week
- The twitching completely closes an eyelid
- Spasms occur to the other parts of the face
- There is unusual discharge from the eyes
- The eyelids sag or droop
- There is swelling and redness
In most cases, eyelid twitching subsides on its own, but when it persists and worsens, you need to visit your eye doctor for treatment and medical advice.
How to Treat Eyelid Twitching
Minor eyelid twitching doesn’t necessarily require any medical treatments and can be eased by making some lifestyle changes. Get enough rest, limit your intake of alcohol or caffeine, protect your eyes from irritants, and avoid dry eyes through blinking exercises or artificial tears.
Meanwhile, there are no known treatments that can cure benign essential blepharospasm, but there are several procedures that help ease this condition such as Botox.
Small amounts of Botox can be injected to lessen the severity of the twitching. However, its effect wears off and a reinjection is typically needed after a few months. This treatment may also be recommended for patients with hemifacial spasm.
Surgery can also be an option to treat benign essential blepharospasm and hemifacial spasm. Surgical procedures are done to remove certain muscles and nerves or to take away the pressure of the arteries to the facial nerve.
Ways to Prevent Eyelid Twitching
Eyelid twitching prevention has a lot to do your lifestyle choices. Basically, you just need to practice healthy habits to protect your eye and keep it functioning well. If you maintain a healthy diet, get enough rest, wear the right type of eyewear, avoid excessive intakes of alcohol and caffeine, and go to regular eye check-ups, you are on the right track.
Meanwhile, if twitching occurs on your lids, take note of the frequency, duration, and intensity. Keeping a record will help you assess your situation better and know the right time to visit an eye doctor.
Eyelid twitching is common and generally, it shouldn’t cause alarm when it first occurs. In most cases, it’s just a result of tiredness or dry eyes. However, it pays to learn what this condition is about, because it can also be a sign of something more serious, which can compromise your quality of life.