Eyelid twitching is a common condition known as Ocular Myokymia, which occurs due to a spasm of the muscle surrounding the eye called the Orbicularis Oculi. This condition is usually harmless and does not lead to any other problems, and it can be caused by tiredness, excessive caffeine, or stress. If the twitching persists and occurs on both sides of the eye, it can be identified as essential blepharospasm.
What is eye twitching?
Eye twitching, also known as eyelid myokymia or blepharospasm, is the involuntary or abnormal blinking of the eyelid. This abnormal blinking can occur several times a day and if severe, can lead to difficulty in opening your eyes, affecting your vision. Problems with the muscle that raises or closes the eyelids or other underlying muscles can contribute to eyelid twitching. Occasional eyelid twitching is normal and can be caused by factors such as tiredness or excessive caffeine consumption. However, frequent eyelid twitching is uncommon and individuals experiencing such symptoms should seek medical advice.
What causes eye twitching?
Ocular Myokymia is the medical name for eye twitching that occurs on one side. This is benign, which is harmless and does not lead to other problems. Constant or frequent twitching on both sides of the face is known as primary blepharospasm. There is no exact answer as to its causes, but it can cause problems with the muscle groups around the eyes. It is suggested that problems with a part of the brain known as the basal ganglia may play a role and that some genes in your DNA may also contribute to this. Other problems with the brain and nervous system rarely cause eyelid twitching. These include Parkinson’s disease, brain damage from inflammation or from a stroke. A reaction to medications especially those used in mental health diseases, a syndrome known as Meg syndrome, multiple sclerosis, hemiplegia, Bell’s palsy.
Who is at risk of eye twitching?
If you have had a head injury in the past, it could potentially increase your likelihood of experiencing eye twitching. Additionally, if other members of your family have a history of eye twitching or if you have taken certain medications known to cause eyelid twitching, your risk of developing the condition may be greater.
What are the symptoms of eye twitching?
Eyelid twitches can range in severity and frequency, with some individuals experiencing them every few seconds while others may have them less frequently. The duration of the twitching can also vary, with some experiencing it for days or longer, while others may have periods of respite before it returns. Upper eyelid twitches are more common than lower eyelid twitches. Some individuals may also experience additional symptoms along with the twitching. Conversely, some people may only experience the twitching for a short period of time, while others may not experience it again after an initial bout.
Irritation of the eye.
An increased rate of blinking sensitivity to light
Vision problems if the frequency of the twitch is high
The severity of the eyelid twitching symptoms can vary, with instances where symptoms may disappear during sleep or periods of intense concentration. Other factors such as fatigue, bright lights, caffeine, driving, stress, or other irritants to the eye may exacerbate the symptoms.
How is eye twitching diagnosed?
When visiting your ophthalmologist or oculoplastic surgeon, they will conduct a thorough assessment of your eye health, which may involve both a detailed medical history and a physical examination of your eyes, including a nervous system examination. In cases where other causes of eyelid twitching cannot be identified, a diagnosis of Ocular myokymia, benign essential blepharospasm, or hemifacial spasm may be made. Typically, additional testing is not needed, but there may be instances where your healthcare provider orders imaging such as an MRI of the brain to rule out other medical causes or considers modifying your medication regimen if it is believed to be contributing to the twitching.
How is eye twitching treated?
If your eyelid twitching is mild and does not affect your daily life, you may not need any treatment. Simple lifestyle changes, such as getting more rest and reducing caffeine intake, may help reduce your symptoms. However, if your eyelid twitching is causing significant problems, your doctor may recommend botulinum toxin injections into the affected muscle to paralyze it and reduce the twitching. In extreme cases, a surgery called myectomy may be considered, which involves removing some of the muscles and nerves within the eyelid to alleviate the symptoms. It’s important to consult with your doctor and possibly a neurologist to address any underlying conditions that may be associated with eyelid twitching, such as Parkinson’s disease.
What are the possible complications of eyelid twitching?
If eye twitching is chronic and severe, it has the potential to cause permanent damage to the eyelids and other eye structures, which can result in various issues such as:
Upper eyelid ptosis
The eyebrows are resting lower than normal
Blepharochalasis which is extra skin of the upper or lower eyelid
An abnormal folding of the skin in the eyelids.
Chronic eyelid twitching can lead to the development of muscle spasms in other areas of the body, including the neck and jaw, in individuals.
How to manage eyelid twitching?
If your eyelid twitching is mild, there are several steps you can take to try and decrease the frequency of the twitches. These include reducing your caffeine intake, getting enough sleep at night, and managing your stress levels. It’s also important to address any other causes of eyelid or eye irritation and to use over-the-counter dry eye drops. Wearing sunglasses in bright light can also be helpful.
When should I call my ophthalmologist?
If your eye twitching persists for more than a week or if you experience new or additional symptoms such as facial swelling or discharge from the eye, it is recommended to contact your ophthalmologist.