Eye twitching, eyelid tics and spasms are pretty common.
Usually, only the bottom lid of one eye is involved, but the top eyelid also can twitch. Most eye twitches come and go, although they can last for weeks or even months.
Most people develop a minor eyelid twitch at some point in their lives. Although the cause is generally unknown, it may be associated with:
- Alcohol intake
- Bright light
- Caffeine excess
- Irritation of the eye surface or inner eyelids
- Physical exertion
This minor form of twitch is painless and harmless. It usually goes away on its own. But it can be quite annoying. And that’s especially true if the spasms are strong enough to cause the eyelids to completely shut and then reopen.
In some cases, eye twitching is more than a temporary nuisance. Some people have spasms that occur frequently throughout the day. Symptoms can recur for days, weeks, or even months. That can cause a lot of emotional distress. It can interfere with quality of life.
Very rarely, eyelid spasms are a symptom of a more serious brain or nerve disorder. When the eyelid twitches are a result of these more serious conditions, they are almost always accompanied by other symptoms. Brain and nerve disorders that may cause eyelid twitches include:
- Bell’s palsy (facial palsy), which is a condition that causes one side of your face to droop downward
- Dystonia, which causes unexpected muscle spasms and the affected area’s body part to twist or contort
- Cervical dystonia (spasmodic torticollis), which causes the neck to randomly spasm and the head to twist into uncomfortable positions
- Multiple sclerosis (MS), which is a disease of the central nervous system that causes cognitive and movement problems, as well as fatigue
- Parkinson’s disease, which can cause trembling limbs, muscle stiffness, balance problems, and difficulty speaking
- Tourette’s syndrome, which is characterized by involuntary movement and verbal tics
Undiagnosed corneal scratches can also cause chronic eyelid twitches. If you think you have an eye injury, see your optometrist immediately. Corneal scratches can cause permanent eye damage.
When Are Eyelid Twitches an Emergency?
Eyelid twitches are rarely serious enough to require emergency medical treatment. However, chronic eyelid spasms may be a symptom of a more serious brain or nervous system disorder. You may need to see your doctor if you’re having chronic eyelid spasms and any of the following also happens:
- Your eye is red, swollen, or has an unusual discharge.
- Your upper eyelid is drooping.
- Your eyelid completely closes each time your eyelids twitch.
- The twitching continues for several weeks.
- The twitching begins affecting other parts of your face.
How Are Eyelid Twitches Treated?
Most eyelid spasms go away without treatment in a few days or weeks. If they don’t go away, you can try to eliminate or decrease potential causes. The most common causes of eyelid twitch are stress, fatigue, and caffeine. To ease eye twitching, you might want to try the following:
- Drink less caffeine.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Keep your eye surfaces and membranes lubricated with over-the-counter artificial tears or eye drops.
- Apply a warm compress to your eyes when a spasm begins.
Lifestyle treatments may also help ease the symptoms of benign essential blepharospasm. Coenzyme Q10 is one treatment, but you should ask your doctor about it first if you have Parkinson’s disease. Treatments also include:
- massage therapy
- nutrition therapy
- psychotherapy, which can be helpful for Tourette’s syndrome
- tai chi
- yoga and other meditation techniques for relaxation
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