Do you ever get a twitch in one or both of your eyelids? It can be irritating and even last for days, so we asked the experts what causes eyelid twitching, and what to do about it.
Myokymia, or an eyelid twitch, is an involuntary spasm of the eyelid muscles. It usually affects the upper lid, but can occur in upper and lower lids. The spasm is typically mild and feels like the eyelid is gently being pulled. But for some people, the spasms are so intense that both eyelids close involuntarily. This condition is called blepharospasm.
Myokymia, however, usually involves spasms that last from a minute or two every few seconds. One can’t predict an episode of eyelid twitching, and you may go for weeks or months without an episode.
The spasms are harmless and painless, but they can be annoying. They usually go away on their own. Rarely, eyelid spasms can be an early warning sign of a movement disorder. In these rare cases, eyelid spasms are usually accompanied by other uncontrollable movements or facial twitches.
Sometimes, eyelid spasms occur without any identifiable cause and remain uninvestigated. However, eyelid twitching can be caused by or made worse by a lack of sleep, medication side-effects, stress, eyelid strain, eye irritation, fatigue, physical exertion, and the use of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.
What to do about it?
Sometimes, just a few tweaks to one’s lifestyle can keep eyelid twitches at bay. If your life is rushed and stressed, and you don’t get enough sleep, eyelid twitching can be a signal that you need more rest and peace.
Living a stressed life could mean you’re turning to alcohol, tobacco and coffee. All of these can lead to eyelid twitching, so adjustments to your consumption levels might alleviate the problem.
If you’re always staring at electronic devices, you might have eye strain, which can cause eyelid twitching. Try putting your devices down regularly and giving your eyes a break, especially an hour before bed.
For dry eyes, there are various eye drops available from any drugstore. Some studies report that a diet deficient in magnesium could result in twitches. When you feel a spasm begin, apply a warm compress to your eyes.
When should you visit a doctor
Most eyelid twitching is perfectly harmless and rarely is emergency medical treatment required. Sometimes, eyelid spasms can be a symptom of an underlying disorder of the brain or nervous system.
So, when should you see a doctor? See a doctor if you have chronic eyelid twitches accompanied by any of the following:
- The twitching has been going on for several weeks.
- The upper eyelid is drooping.
- The upper eyelid closes completely during a spasm.
- The eye is swollen, red, or has a discharge.
- You develop twitching in other parts of your face.
But, for most people, it’s a matter of getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and drinking less coffee and alcohol.