Many people have experienced eye twitching at some point in their lives. It could be a one-time thing now and then, or it could recur frequently. For some people, it gets so bad that they can barely focus on the tasks at hand.
While it is okay to dismiss eye twitching and settle for some natural remedies, it is not always advisable. The twitch could be an indication of something more severe and something that needs dealing with immediately.
The frequency of the twitching is something that you should monitor. Often, twitches last a few seconds to minutes and will not recur for a while after that. Some people experience relief within a day, week, or month.
If the twitch does not seem to be getting better or going away, you need to consult a doctor. The longer you wait, the worse the likely condition could become.
Common causes of eye twitching
Given that eye twitching could result from many things, your doctor will likely go through your medical history. From this, they can see if any medications you are using are behind the twitches.
Yes, drugs intended for positive results can have side effects such as spasms. If this is the case, then all you have to do is to wait until the effects of the drugs are over. The doctor will also enquire about any illnesses that you suffer from.
They could contribute significantly to spasms. The same also holds for any other eye issues that you may have. Everything from whether you need glasses to past surgeries will come up in the exam.
In this way, the doctor can assess how long you have suffered from twitches and which eyes are affected. From here, the doctor can work on ruling out the following common causes of eye twitching:
1. Strain on the eyes
How much time do you spend reading or working on digital screens? It could be that the eye strain has resulted in eye twitching as the eye muscles seek to relax. In this case, you need to spend less time reading or using smart devices.
The doctor could ask what you spend time doing during the day. Maybe you are a student gearing up for the finals, and all you do is read. Some rest will do you good.
Have you had any injuries in or around the eyes in the recent past? This impact can affect the muscles around the eyes, and this can lead to twitching.
Think hard as any contusions you may have had could be the reason behind the involuntary blinks.
3. Caffeine and alcohol intake
Most studies point to a high intake of caffeine and alcohol as a likely cause of eye twitching. Why is that? Well, these two substances lead to more excretion of fluids through urine. That means that you are more likely to get dehydrated, and this leads to muscle cramps and spasms.
If the twitching has started after you upped the intake of either or both of these substances, you need to cut back. While it may feel tempting to omit some of this information, it goes a long way in helping your doctor assess your condition.
You could feel tired for several reasons. Maybe you are not getting enough sleep. Whatever is causing the sleeplessness needs addressing. Not only does it strain the eyes and trigger twitching, but it also affects your overall health.
If you feel that you are not getting enough sleep, you should work on this. Also, let the doctor know during the initial assessment.
5. Allergic reactions
Any strain on the eyes is likely to cause an itch. The same holds when it comes to inflammation. Maybe you are allergic to pollen, and you spent the better part of the day in a flower farm. In this case, the inflammation is likely to cause twitching.
Or it could be allergy season, and with this, you experience redness, swelling, itching, and twitching. Your doctor will ask about any allergies that you may have and use this information in the assessment.
Many medications, including diuretics and anti-seizure drugs, can trigger twitching. It could be that a drug has caused the reaction.
However, if you have used a drug for a while, and the twitching is recent, the drug is likely not to be the cause. You cannot rule it out completely, though.
7. Dry eyes
Your eyes need to remain hydrated. That is the essence of blinking as it helps in moistening them as well as spreading the tear layer. When your eyes do not have enough moisture, they get irritated, and this leads to problems such as itching.
Dryness could result from eye strain, and you thus need to be on the lookout for this. In most cases, doctors will prescribe a solution to deal with this problem.
Your doctor will assess the information provided and make a diagnosis based on the same or weigh in other factors. In some cases, the twitching could arise owing to a combination of factors. That’s why a doctor will also perform an eye exam to see if anything stands out from the same.
At this point, a doctor will generally ask you to stay away from any causative factors. For example, if the twitching arose from high alcohol intake, then cutting back on this would help.
Based on the assessment, the doctor will give some recommendations as well as a follow-up session. Some drugs may be necessary depending on the severity of the condition. You could start by cutting back only to find that this offers little relief.
In some cases, injections may be necessary. And in some situations, brain stimulation and surgery may come in handy. However, the mode of treatment will depend on the assessments over time. That is why you should not try to treat the spasm with over the counter medicine.
In most cases, twitches go away on their own and are common on one side. Within a few weeks or months, they become a thing of the past.
When should I be worried about eye twitching?
Upon an initial assessment of your twitch, your doctor will prescribe some changes to your lifestyle. For example, the doctor might advise that you drink more water to reduce dehydration in the body.
After a few weeks, you should notice a change in the twitch such that it reduces. If it does not go away after this time, you should consult your doctor and find out why.
Worsening of the twitch
You should not leave a twitch be no matter how mild you think it is. Yes, some twitches resolve on their own. However, you cannot know this for sure. You thus have to consult your doctor about any changes in muscle movements.
Twitches will generally get worse if you do not find a way to treat them. Suppose you take on the advice of your doctor and the problem gets worse, you need another consultation. It could point to the issue being more significant than you thought.
Generally, when you have an eye twitch, it is present around the eye. In this case, you are likely to have blepharospasm. In the case where other parts of the face are twitching, you should consult your doctor as the condition may be different. Your doctor can then refer you for tests to get to the bottom of the issue.
Heightened light sensitivity
If you develop a high sensitivity to light, you will find it hard to perform your usual activities. You could even have trouble reading novels or following movies on digital screens.
This disruption can negatively impact your life. As opposed to finding means to combat light sensitivity, you should talk to your doctor. Based on the cause of the twitch, you should get help.
Changes in the eyes appearance
The changes can come about in different ways. For example, if you find it hard to open your eyes, this indicates that there is more to the twitch than a muscle movement. Also, check the appearance of your eyelids.
Does a drooping eyelid accompany the twitching eye? Some signs are easy to spot, such as swelling or redness in the eye as well as abnormal discharge. These are all things that your doctor should know during initial and subsequent assessments.
How well can you see? Has your vision changed ever since the twitching began? Some people report having blurry vision or disruptions in their view. If your eyes are not working as they did in the past, you should bring this up during assessments.
Have you experienced changes in speech or motor movements? These are things that you should be on the lookout for, as they could indicate more than an eye twitch.
Some underlying conditions can contribute to twitching coupled with other changes such as numbness in limbs. Let your doctor know if you come across such changes.
Disruption in daily activities
For many people, a twitch is not a reason for concern. They will blink and move on with what they are doing. If your twitch is strong such that you close your eyes when doing so, this points to a problem.
It means that you cannot carry out most activities with ease owing to the disruption. In this case, you need to understand what’s causing the shutting and what you can do about it. Also, if you experience pain during the shutting, your doctor needs to know.
Possible underlying conditions of eye twitching
If you experience any of these symptoms and your doctor rules out the causes outlined above, you could have a reason for worry.
Note that, in some cases, the twitch is a sign of an underlying condition. Below are some of the conditions which feature eye twitches as symptoms:
This condition is what most people refer to eye twitching. It involves frequent blinking that can sometimes be forceful. Unlike usual twitching or tics, this requires some form of treatment for it to go away.
Some people experience the closure when they are in brightly lit environments. For others, it is a reaction to medicines or allergens. Under blepharospasm, there is a condition known as benign essential blepharospasm (BEB).
In this case, the closure of the eyes does not relate to environmental conditions. It does not have an apparent cause and affects about ten in every one hundred thousand people. Luckily, it is not life-threatening, but it requires some relief.
In most cases, symptoms start slowly and develop over the years. At first, the spasms are infrequent, but over time, they can become disruptive. People with this condition often find it hard to carry out normal activities.
They cannot read, drive, walk, shop, or carry out other such tasks as the blinking is frequent. Some people may even experience eyelid closure for hours such that all they can do is sit and wait.
Interestingly, people do not experience this closure when they are asleep. Studies show that the spasms are less once people have had enough rest. They can go a few hours before experiencing any closures.
Also, there are techniques you can use to keep the eyes from shutting too often. Examples include tugging on the eyelids, chewing gum, and singing. Such activities stimulate the eye muscles and keep them working to keep the eyes open.
However, these techniques cannot work in the presence of a trigger such as stress, brightly lit environments, and fatigue, among others.
Unfortunately, some people do not know that they are suffering from this condition owing to misdiagnosis. Given the rarity of this condition, doctors will often prescribe medication suited for other diseases such as dry eyes.
With misdiagnosis, the condition is likely to worsen, and this can limit the daily activities of the patient.
With a proper diagnosis, a patient can get relief from many forms of treatment, both natural and medical. Examples include the use of artificial teardrops, wearing tinted lenses, eye exercises, and a change in diet.
For most patients, relief comes from using botulinum toxin injections in their eye muscles. These injections show results within a few weeks and are effective for at least three months. They do have side effects such as double vision and eyelid drooping.
However, these effects wear off after a while. There is no cure for BEB. The only way to manage it is to consult your doctor as to the best option.
Some BEB patients experience other involuntary movements on their faces and necks. They include but are not limited to the pursing of lips, thrusting of chins, and making grimaces. All these are involuntary. When this happens, the patients are likely to be suffering from meige syndrome. It could also be a symptom of another disease.
Once a doctor ascertains that a patient has this syndrome, many modes of treatment are applicable. As is the case with BEB, botulinum toxin injections have proven to be effective.
Hemifacial Spasm (HFS)
HFS is a condition exhibited by involuntary movements on one side of the face owing to the contraction of muscles.
It also goes by the name tic convulsive. The affected muscles are under the control of the seventh cranial nerve, which is a motor nerve. It thus controls the movement of the eyebrows and mouth as well as the closing of the eyes.
In most cases, the spasms start near the eye, which many people may figure is a normal twitch. Over time, the spasms move down the face. For some people, the spasms start at the chin and move upward.
However, this is only present in about 8% of the reported cases. The movements are not painful, but they can be embarrassing to the affected people.
HFS can arise owing to different reasons. One, it could be that you have experienced some sort of trauma to the facial nerve. Thus, if you have had any injuries in the past, you should let your doctor know during the initial assessment.
Two, a tumor or blood vessel could be compressing the facial nerve, thus interfering with it. For most people, this is the underlying cause. When the facial nerve gets compressed, it misfires and causes contracting in the facial muscles. The third cause is Bell’s Palsy.
This condition is quite rare as about eight in every one hundred thousand people have it. Most of the patients are in their middle ages going up. Also, more women than men have it.
To diagnose you with this condition, your doctor will perform a neurological exam. An MRI is also necessary to ensure that there are no other underlying causes, such as brain tumors.
EMG studies of the face also come into play. Once you have a diagnosis, the doctor can then come up with a treatment program.
You can use anti-convulsant drugs which have a myriad of side effects. With these, you need a lot of monitoring to ensure that you do not develop further complications.
Like in the case with BEB, you can use botulinum toxin injections. Where injections and drugs are not sufficient, surgery is another option to relieve the compression.
Bell’s Palsy occurs when there is paralysis or weakness in facial muscles. It affects one side of the face owing to the irritation of a facial nerve. It is important to note that the paralysis does not result from a stroke.
The causative factors of this irritation are unclear, but some studies indicate that it could result from a viral infection. To treat this condition, doctors often prescribe anti-viral drugs. They also administer some medications to bring the swelling down.
Patients with this condition have a droop on one side of their face. That makes it hard for them to shut the eye on the affected side entirely.
They also experience a droop on one side of the mouth, and their sense of taste may be affected. In most cases, this condition clears up over time, usually a few weeks leading into months.
You can heal from this condition by embracing both medical and natural treatments. To manage the symptoms, you should consult your doctor, who can offer you some relief. Examples include using artificial tears to keep the open eye hydrated and wearing an eye patch.
Occasionally shutting the eye using your finger will help it remain moistened and prevent dry eye. Your doctor will also recommend some exercises which work in bringing feeling back to your face. They include making facial expressions and massaging the affected parts.
In the US, an average of 60,000 people gets diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease annually. This condition is progressive, and it affects the nervous system, thereby affecting movements.
Among its initial symptoms is eye twitching, which may not be noticeable in the beginning. This twitching accompanies a tremor in the hand. Over time, muscles become more rigid, and movements get more affected.
It gets to a point where speech and writing abilities also get affected. These symptoms are a result of the breaking down of brain nerve cells, and the reason behind this is not clear. Symptoms worsen over time, and they are different in the affected people.
You should address any lingering twitches. It could help you manage this condition, where present, from an early stage.
Eye twitching could be a symptom of multiple sclerosis, abbreviated as MS. This condition is chronic and can be disabling to some patients. It attacks the central nervous system and causes numbness in limbs, loss in vision, and paralysis, among others.
This disease has varied symptoms such that what is present in one patient differs from the other. They include slurred speeches, mood variations, double vision, tingling, and fatigue. The symptoms often come and go, and they vary in severity.
These symptoms are treatable, and there are many drugs on the market that you can use. Note that you should not self-medicate as this can make the condition worse.
Anyone can get this disease, and it is common between the ages of 20 and 50, with more women affected. Worldwide, more than two million people have this disease. Diagnosing this disease is not an easy fete, given that the symptoms come and go.
As such, no single test can confirm the presence of this condition. Thus, a diagnosis can take months before the results are out. The causative factors of this condition are unknown, and research on the same is ongoing.
Dystonia is a movement disorder characterized by involuntary as well as abnormal movements and postures. It can affect one or more parts of the body and is present in all ages. For adults, this condition exhibits in one part of the body. However, for children, this condition is progressive, and it can spread to other parts of the body.
Hundreds of thousands of people suffer from this disease. However, most are unaware of the condition given its difficulty of diagnosis. Thus, many people do not manage it as they should. While it is not life-threatening, it has significant effects on the affected patients and their families.
The symptoms vary as per patient, and it can progress quite rapidly, disabling the affected person. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease, and no treatment can stop its progress. Patients can use treatment to minimize the effects of the symptoms, though.
In most cases, the causative factors of this condition are unknown. In other cases, it is inherited or results from illnesses and injuries affecting the brain. For a proper diagnosis to take place, you should consult a specialist who can rule out other possible conditions.
There are no specific tests for this disease. Specialists rely on medical histories, blood and urine tests, genetics, and MRI scans for conclusive results.
This disease exhibits in many forms, among them eye twitching (blepharospasm). In this case, the patient experiences eye irritation, involuntary blinking, light sensitivity, and other such symptoms. It owes to the condition affecting the muscles around the eyes.
In this case, the disease is manageable through botulinum toxin injections. Some people experience some relief after using natural means while others opt for surgery.
This disorder, abbreviated as TS (Tourette syndrome), causes tics in people. Patients experience involuntary sounds, twitches, and movements which they have no control over. While they can establish control over the tics for a while, they cannot avoid it forever.
One in every four hundred children gets diagnosed with this condition in the US. Boys are more affected compared to girls. The earlier the diagnosis, the earlier the support for the condition can start.
There are several types of tics. Regarding the eyes, patients of TS are likely to have motor tics that cause frequent blinking. Tics can either be simple or complex. Simple tics involve the movement of one part and are hardly noticeable. An example would be the squinting of the eyes.
Complex tics include several actions and can affect many parts of the body. Some people develop a pattern for their tics. They can shake their head, move their leg, and stand in succession.
No single test can diagnose this condition, and doctors require an extensive assessment of the patient. Usually, the diagnosis takes place when one has experienced the symptoms for more than a year. If not, the person could have a tic disorder.
While there is no cure for TS, there are treatments that one can use to manage the tics. They allow patients to carry out their daily activities and take part in social activities. Research is ongoing to establish the cause of this disease.
Eye twitching, in most cases, goes away when you make some lifestyle changes as requested by the doctor. These include lubricating your eyes, getting enough sleep, and cutting back on stimulants. Where these do not work, you are likely to require medications, injections, or in some scenarios, surgery.
You should get concerned with the twitching if it lasts longer than a couple of months. Also, if other symptoms accompany the twitching, it could be an indication of another condition. Do not delay when it comes to scheduling an appointment with your doctor.