What is an eye twitch?
Eye twitch (blepharospasm) is usually harmless. If it's not caused by an underlying condition, more rest and avoiding caffeine, alcohol and stress may help the twitch go away.
A blepharospasm (eye twitch) is a harmless, involuntary spasm of the muscle of the eyelids, which may resolve on its own. Eye twitch causes the eyelid to blink every few seconds for a minute or two. Twitches are generally painless, however, if there’s a strong spasm, it causes the eyelid to shut completely and then reopen.
Twitches can be caused due to:
- Medication side effects
- Light sensitivity
- Lack of sleep
- Foreign particles in the eye
- Corneal irritation
What is a twitching eye a sign of?
Eye twitching is generally painless and harmless and does not signify any serious medical conditions. However, persistent eye twitching can be a sign of more serious conditions like:
- Blepharitis (inflamed eyelids)
- Dry eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Conjunctivitis or pink eye
- Very rarely, eye twitching can be a sign of a nerve or brain disorder like:
- Bell's palsy (a form of facial paralysis due to dysfunction of facial nerves)
- Dystonia (involuntary muscle contractions)
- Parkinson's disease (a brain disorder caused due to nerve cell damage)
- Tourette's syndrome (a nervous system disorder causing the person to make sudden movements)
- Certain medicines like antidepressant drugs and epilepsy medicines can cause the eyes to twitch
What are the different types of eye twitches?
There are three types of eye twitches, which are:
- Minor eyelid twitches: These are normal twitches commonly associated with fatigue, stress, lack of sleep, caffeine or alcohol; corneal or conjunctival irritation.
- Benign essential blepharospasm: This results in nonstop blinking or eye irritation. As the condition advances, it can result in blurry vision, light sensitivity and facial spasms. Benign essential blepharospasm is caused due to fatigue, stress and bright light or wind.
- Hemifacial spasm: This rare condition affects the muscles around the mouth and the eyelid. It generally affects only one side of the face.
When should an eye twitch be treated?
Seek medical attention in the following conditions:
- Twitch that lasts for more than a week
- Eyelid closes completely
- Spasms of other facial muscles
- Redness, swelling or discharge from the eye
- Drooping of the upper eyelid
How can I get my eye to stop twitching?
Twitches generally stop without any major effort. If it doesn’t go away, you might try these techniques to ease eye twitching
- Get adequate rest
- Cut down alcohol, tobacco or caffeine
- Apply a warm compress to your eyes
- Use artificial tears to keep the eye surfaces lubricated
The physician might inject botulinum toxin (botox) to treat serious conditions like benign essential blepharospasm or hemifacial spasm. Botox is prescribed for temporary relief, and you should undergo repeated treatment for complete relief.
There are some alternative therapies, which include:
- Biofeedback: This technique helps to control the involuntary muscle using relaxation exercises and methods.
- Acupuncture: Thin needles are inserted to the pressure points to relieve twitching
- Chiropractic measures: This technique involves hands-on spinal manipulation to heal twitching
- Diet management
- Tinted glasses or sunglasses
- As a last resort, the physician might perform a surgical myectomy, i.e., removal of muscle and nerve ending around your eyelid to relieve spasm.