Most people develop eye twitching or jumping at some point in their lives. This common health issue is also known as eyelid tics or eye spasms.
Although these spasms normally affect the lower lid of one eye, the upper eyelid can also start twitching. In general, eye twitching disappears on its own, but it can sometimes last for several weeks or even months.
There isn’t a single cause that can relate to eye spasms, but rather a number of risk factors that have been repeatedly linked to this condition:
- Bright light
- Excess caffeine intake
- Alcohol consumption
- Irritation of the eye surface or inner eyelids
- Physical exertion
When the eye spasms are minor, they normally go away on their own. These spasms are neither painful, nor harmful, but they can be quite irritating, especially if they are strong enough to make the eyelids shut completely and then reopen.
However, in other case, eye twitching can indicate a more serious health issue. In some people, eye spasms can appear several times during the day and the symptoms persist for days, weeks, or even months. This can seriously affect your quality of life and cause a lot of emotional distress.
Eye twitching can also be a symptom of a more serious brain or nerve disorder, but this happens rarely. In such cases, an eyelid spasm is caused by other serious conditions, and is almost always accompanied by other symptoms. These brain and nerve disorders include:
- Dystonia, a condition that causes involuntary muscle spasms that make this body part to twist or contort
- Bell’s palsy(facial palsy), a nerve condition that leads to downward drooping of one side of your face
- Multiple sclerosis(MS), a disease of the central nervous system that affect cognition and movement; it also triggers fatigue
- Cervicaldystonia (spasmodic torticollis), a condition that causes involuntary spasms to the neck and head twisti
- Tourette’s syndrome, a condition marked by involuntary movement and verbal ticsng into uncomfortable positions
- Parkinson’s disease, a condition that triggers limb trembling, muscle stiffness, misbalance, and difficulty speaking
Chronic eyelid twitches can also be caused by undetected corneal scratches, which can cause permanent eye damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s extremely important to visit an ophthalmologist in case of an eye injury.
When Eyelid Twitches Ask for Immediate Medical Attention
Eyelid twitches can rarely be a cause for immediate medical attention. But, as mentioned above, chronic eyelid spasms may signalize a more serious brain or nervous system disorder. Visit an eye doctor if you’re experiencing chronic eyelid spasms accompanied by any of the following:
- Your upper eyelid is drooping.
- Your eye is red, swollen, or has an unusual discharge.
- The spasms start to affect other parts of your face.
- The spasms persist for several weeks.
- Your eyelid closes completely each time your eyelids twitch.
How to Treat Eyelid Twitches
Although most eyelid twitches require no medical treatment and disappear on their own in a few days or weeks, if they persist, you should address the contributing causes such as stress, fatigue, and caffeine. In other words:
- Get enough sleep.
- Reduce caffeine intake.
- When a spasm begins apply a warm compress to your eyes.
- Keep your eye surfaces and membranes lubricated; you can use over-the-counter artificial tears or eye drops for this.
Some lifestyle changes can also reduce the symptoms of benign eye spasms. Coenzyme Q10 is a possible treatment, but discuss it with your doctor first if you have Parkinson’s disease. Other treatments include:
- massage therapy
- psychotherapy, which can be helpful for Tourette’s syndrome
- nutrition therapy
- yoga and other meditation techniques for relaxation
- tai chi