Eye twitching may be common, but it didn’t make the list for the Top 5 Most Common Eye Conditions, mostly because it’s not very serious.
“Blepharospasm”. It’s as difficult to say as it is to stop. Blepharospasm is the technical term for an eye twitch. Usually when we have an eye twitch or eyelid spasm, it’s not something we can control. The lid is moving on its own every couple of seconds. Thankfully, it usually lasts for a minute or two… disappearing as mysteriously as it came.
While there isn’t much we can do to stop our eye from twitching, we still need to learn about blepharospasms, because it could be the sign of an underlying problem. That’s why this article is focusing on eye twitching.
THE THREE TYPES OF TWITCHES
There are three common forms of eye twitches:
- MINOR EYELID TWITCH. These are common and linked to things like stress, fatigue, or caffeine. However, it’s also possible that your cornea (the surface of your eye) or the conjunctiva (the membranes that line your eyelids) are irritated.
- BENIGN ESSENTIAL BLEPHAROSPASM. It’s very unlikely that you’re experiencing B.E.P. Less than 2,000 Canadians are diagnosed with it each year. Women are twice as likely to get it, showing up in our 30’s or 40’s. B.E.P. starts with nonstop blinking and irritation, leading to sensitivity or blurry vision.
- HEMIFACIAL SPASM. These are even more rare, and involve muscles surrounding the eye and mouth. It usually affects one side of the face, as the cause is an artery pushing on a nerve.
CAUSES AND TRIGGERS
Chances are you’re experiencing minor eyelid twitching. This is typically caused by an unusual signal in your brain or your face muscle. This can happen when you’re tired, stressed, have been smoking, drinking alcohol or coffee. It can also be triggered by some medications, especially those that treat epilepsy and psychosis.
Sometimes eye twitching is a part of a nervous system disorder such as Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Bell’s Palsy, Dystonia, Tourette’s Syndrome, and any brain damage.
WHEN TO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR
As we mentioned, most twitching is natural and uncontrollable. You may notice patterns though, such as twitching after a poor night’s sleep. This can help you understand what triggers it and help you prevent those conditions down the road.
However, twitches can also last all day, go on for days, distracting you and reducing your quality of life. If that’s the case, you definitely want to see your doctor. Other reasons to take your twitching to the doctor:
- Your eyelid closes completely while twitching.
- Other facial muscles are getting involved with twitching.
- Your upper eyelid starts to droop.
- There’s redness, swelling, or a discharge.
TREATMENT AND PREVENTION
Even if your eyelid twitch lasts a few days, it’s still more likely to go away on its own than with medical interference. In some cases, Botox injections are helpful, especially in patients that experience twitching often. It’s important to keep in mind though, that the effects of Botox are temporary, additional injections are needed every few months.
In rare, more severe cases of Benign Essential Blepharospasm, a myectomy is performed (a surgeon removes some muscles and nerves from the area).
When it comes to eye twitching though, the best cure is often prevention. Keep a journal noting when each spasm occurs and pay particular attention to your caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol intake. Your stress and fatigue levels should be noted as well.