You must have had one of those involuntary eyelid twitches that usually come and go on their own but which can be rather annoying when they keep happening days on end.
So what exactly are the twitches all about? What causes them and can they necessitate treatment?
Eyelid twitching normally occurs in the upper eyelid, though they can occur in the lower eyelid too.
For most people, the twitches are mild and feel like a gentle tug on the eyelid. Others experience a spasm strong enough that it forces you to close your eyelid completely. Yet others feel nothing much, as the twitches don’t have any noticeable signs.
Episodes of eyelid twitching—also known as blepharospasm—are unpredictable. The spasms typically occur every few seconds for a minute or two, but they can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes to even even a few months depending on the cause of the twitch.
Most of the time, these twitches are painless and harmless and are just your body telling you that you have watched too much television or need a break from staring at your computer.
The obvious symptom is of course uncontrolled twitching of the eyelid. Other common symptoms are:
- Continuous blinking
- Increased twitching while performing eye-intensive tasks such as stitching or reading.
Eyelid twitching may occur without any identifiable cause and because they are rarely a sign of a serious problem, the cause is not usually investigated. Nevertheless, eyelid twitches may be caused or made worse by:
- Fatigue and lack of sleep
- Eye-straining tasks, such as prolonged computer use, long episodes of sewing, extended television viewing, etc.
- Corneal irritation or injury
- Side effects of medication
- High consumption of alcohol and caffeine, which make the eyes less hydrated, resulting in muscle spasms (eye twitches)
To Note: During pregnancy, it is common to undergo stress, fatigue and sleeplessness. These reasons might trigger eyelid twitching. Also, eye spasm during pregnancy can also be a result of deficiency in vitamins and minerals in the body, like potassium, calcium magnesium, vitamin D etc.
- Schedule breaks: Be sure to get plenty of breaks away from your computer or television to help rest your eyes.
- Rest and Relaxation: Simple rest and relaxation, including a good night’s sleep, often resolves most minor cases of eyelid twitching.
- Massage: Appling warm compresses to the twitching eye and gently massage the eyelid with your fingers is a good remedy for an eyelid twitch.
- Diet and exercise: A healthy diet and exercise will do you some good and help you reduce and even eliminate eyelid twitching.
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol and caffeine: You may want to consider reducing or eliminating caffeine and or alcohol from your diet.
- Botulinum (Botox) injections: This is sometimes used to treat eyelid twitching. Botox may ease severe spasms for a few months. However, as the effects of the injection wear off, you may need further injections.
To Note: The treatment that works varies depending on the person. If an underlying health condition is the cause, then treating the underlying condition is the way to relieve the twitching.
When is an eyelid twitch a medical 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, thus you may need to see your doctor if you’re experiencing this. You may need to see you doctor too if:
- 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 and begins to affect other parts of your face.
Do you have any queries regarding eyelid twitching or any other eye condition? Please place your query on the comment section below or contact us via: email@example.com.
If you need medical attention, contact us via +254 (0) 707 777 707 or visit us at City Eye Hospital, Ngong Rd, Opposite Traffic Police Station, Nairobi, Kenya.