We think it’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced the harmless but annoying eye twitch, which tends to crop up every once in a while during our lifetimes.
Formally called blepharospasm, eyelid spasms and tics are essentially the muscles in your eyelids contracting, and most commonly take place in the bottom lid of one eye, although some have also experienced a twitch in their upper eyelid
For many of us, eye twitching is a nuisance that lasts a few moments in a day every now and again, and while many of us can become conscious that those around us must be able to notice it, take a look in the mirror, where you’ll see that the movement is so slight it is unlikely anybody will pick up on it.
But for some, these symptoms can unfortunately last not only for a few days, but weeks, months and could even result in the twitching becoming chronic. Chronic twitching sufferers will experience uncontrollable, persistent squinting and winking in their eye. For some visual impairment can occur, from the inability to keep the eyes open.
Causes and solutions of eye twitching
Eye twitching can occur for a variety of reasons that many of us experience at some point, including:
- Stress - Stress undoubtedly has a physical impact on our bodies, and for some this can take the form of an eye twitch. If our eyes are working too hard as a result of stress, for example in the form of eye strain, this can trigger this uncontrollable movement
- Digital Eye Strain - Spending too much time on digital devices such as laptops, mobiles and tablets is a common cause of eye twitches. Reduce your risks by taking regular breaks and getting your eyes tested to ensure you are not straining them further from a need to get glasses!
- Alcohol and Caffeine - Both of these can trigger your eyelids to twitch. If you have developed a twitch that doesn’t seem to budge, try cutting back on tea, coffee, soft drinks, chocolate and alcohol for a week or two and your vision may be back to normal!
- Fatigue - A lack of sleep is one of the key causes of eye twitching. If you’ve had a few late nights, the best thing you can do is try and get yourself back into a regular sleeping pattern. Cutting out alcohol and caffeine should help you get a better rest too
- Allergies - Having an allergy can often cause our eyes to become watery, itchy, red and swollen. When rubbing your eyes, you release histamines which has been proven to potentially cause eye twitching. Purchasing antihistamine tablets or eye drops should help lower your chances of developing a twitch in your eye.
- Side effect of medications - Eye twitching can be a reaction most commonly from taking medications that treat epilepsy and psychosis
If you still can’t shake these eye spasms, or are experiencing particular discomfort, it is important you consult your doctor or optician as soon as possible as eye twitches can also be a symptom of more serious conditions such as:
- Dry eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Blepharitis (inflamed eyelids)
And very rarely, it can be a sign of the following brain or nerve disorders, including:
- Tourette's syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
- Bell’s palsy
What more can be done to treat an eye twitch?
As well as getting enough sleep, drinking less caffeine and taking regular breaks from digital devices, try and apply a warm compress to your eyes if you can feel a twitch starting, and ensure your eyes are lubricated with eye drops that can be purchased over-the-counter.
Surprisingly, you could even try botulinum toxin, which is the long word for Botox. Injections of this have sometimes been used to treat eye twitching, however only work for a few months before you would need it doing again. In more severe cases, surgery can also be carried out to remove the muscles and nerves in your eyelids that therefore stop the spasms.
For many of us though, eye twitching will likely remain the nuisance that turns up every once in a while. With the tips mentioned above, small lifestyle changes should help keep this pestering spasm away for longer!
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