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Eye Twitching: Causes & Treatment Options

One thing you probably never think about is blinking, even though it is a voluntary action. So, it can be a bit unsettling when your eye really takes control and starts twitching and there seems to be little you can do about it. The more you know about eye twitching the better you can deal with it. So, let us get to some basics and solutions.

man holding eye

Eye twitching involves involuntary and abnormal blinking, also known as myokymia. Frequent twitching can affect your vision. It often happens when you are tired or after consuming too much caffeine. When it gets too intense, then it is time to seek help.

Anyone can have it, whether young or old. It is particularly prevalent in medical students, thus its other name, “medical student’s disease.” That probably happens because of the amount of stress they face during their studies.

Issues with other muscles around the eyes may also cause eye twitching. 

Common Causes

An eye twitch is essentially an involuntary eye muscle spasm.

Doctors aren’t sure what causes eye twitching. Sometimes it is hereditary, but women in the 40 to 60 age bracket are most susceptible to getting it.

Excessive twitching sometimes happens as a result of simple issues. For instance, spending too much time looking at a computer, books, or phone can bring it on.

If you have dry eye, you will likely develop eye twitching. Stress or allergens can cause eye twitching too.

Other issues such as brain and nervous system disorders can cause it, including Bell’s palsy and Parkinson’s disease. If the actual disease doesn’t cause eye twitching, then the medication used to treat it might be the culprit.

Less Common Causes

There are many assumed causes of eye twitching. Researchers seem to believe that the primary cause of eye twitches is malfunctioning cells in the nervous system, but these other isolated cases may also cause eye twitches:

  • Photosensitivity
  • Smoking
  • Air pollution
  • Irritation by wind
  • Alcohol
  • Frequent squinting

What Is an Eye Twitch?

An eye twitch is essentially an involuntary eye muscle spasm. There are three types:

  • Eyelid twitch
  • Hermifacial spasm
  • Essential Blepharospasm

Eyelid Twitch

An eyelid twitch happens when the lower or upper eyelid or both have a slight spasm. It happens due to lack of sleep, stress, or excessive caffeine. Spasms of this nature usually resolve themselves in a few days.

Hemifacial spasm

Hemifacial spasm condition features involuntary closure of one eye caused by muscles in the cheeks and neck and usually happens on one side of the face.

Essential Blepharospasm

Essential blepharospasm involves both eyes having contractions and twitching muscles around the eyes, occasionally. Although rare, it is unpleasant as severe cases can affect vision. Eventually, both eyelids close and squeeze the muscles around the eyes. The results might be a temporary inability to see.

Symptoms that May Accompany Eye Twitching

Eye twitches occur at different frequencies for different people. At times, it might take longer to clear than others. The most common type of twitching occurs when one eye twitches. If both eyes twitch, typically only one exhibits the symptoms.

The primary symptoms of eye twitches are spasms. Other signs you should look for include:

  • Irritation in the eyes
  • Eye dryness
  • Vision problems
  • Photosensitivity
  • Rapid blinking

How to Make it Stop

There are no known causes for eye twitching. Any treatment that your physician might recommend is only to manage the symptoms.

There are no known causes for eye twitching. Any treatment that your physician might recommend is only to manage the symptoms. Treatment options are only viable after comprehensive assessments by an eye doctor.

After understanding your entire medical history, a doctor can administer any of the following treatments:

  • Botox injections: The injections contain clostridium botulinum or the botulinum toxin to help relieve twitching. They can be as frequent as your physician sees fit.
  • Surgery: This is an option when injections fail to work. The name of the surgery to manage the symptoms of eye twitching is called myectomy. It involves removing a muscle or nerve tissue to stop the twitching.
  • Lifestyle changes: Another treatment worth considering is stress management and getting enough sleep. Adjusting your diet can also help.

When to See a Doctor

Eye twitches usually go away on their own. But consider seeing a doctor when it lasts for longer than a week. Besides the persistence of the eye twitches, you can use other symptoms accompanying the eye quivering as indicators that it is time to see a doctor.

If eye twitching starts getting in the way of your daily life, it means that it is pretty severe, so you should consult a doctor. Sometimes it is better to take caution even when twitching seems mild. A physician can rule out any severe conditions.

Complications  

Rarely do complications occur from eye twitches. Any complications that arise are often temporary and even preventable at a scale.

Granted it’s rare, but the worst case is it can include complications such as drooping eyelids, double vision, injury to the cornea, excessive tearing, and permanent eye damage.

FAQs

When should I be worried about eye twitching?

You should start worrying about your eyes twitching when it lasts several days. When that arises, look for other unusual events in your body and schedule to see a physician. If your eyes are droopy and have turned reddish, it could be a sign it is severe.

What is the leading cause of eye twitching?

The leading cause of eye twitching is the malfunction of specific brain and nervous system cells. Factors like alcohol intake, excessive caffeine, stress, and smoking could cause these cells to weaken. Certain nervous system disorders cause the destruction of these cells, such as Bell’s palsy and Parkinson’s disease.

What does it mean when your eye twitches?

If your eye twitches, it could mean that you have fatigue or stress, so it is time to take a rest. It could also mean that your eyes have eye strain and vision-related tension so take it as an indication that you need glasses.

Moreover, persistent eye twitches that last a week could indicate a severe underlying condition, which requires you to consult your doctor.

Is eye twitching a vitamin deficiency?

Insufficient levels of Vitamin B12 or Vitamin D can cause spasms. A deficiency of essential electrolytes such as magnesium, usually due to dehydration, can cause muscle spasms translating into eye twitches. 

Generally, poor nutrition can deny the critical body nutrients contributing to healthy bones and muscles.

References

  1. Eyelid Myokymia. (August 2021). National Center for Biotechnology Information.

  2. Blepharospasm: What Causes Eye Twitching. (October 2020). American Academy of Family Physicians.

  3. Blepharospasm. (September 2020). National Eye Institute.

  4. Eye Twitching. (2021). John’s Hopkins Medicine.

  5. Eyelid Twitching: Causes & Treatment. (December 2017). Cleveland Clinic.

Last Updated February 26, 2022

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