Eyelid twitching, or eyelid spasming, is something of a medical mystery. No one is certain why this condition, medically known as blepharospasm, can go from occasional to chronic. It’s often a symptom of another underlying medical problem.
What’s Going On With This Eyelid Twitching?
Stress, fatigue, caffeine, and alcohol are common causes of eye twitching. Certain medications and irritants like pollution, dander, dust, and allergens can also trigger this. The condition also seems to run in certain families and may be genetic in some cases.
While occasional eyelid twitching is normal, ongoing and severe twitches are a bit of a medical mystery. If twitching turns into nonstop blinking, the eyes become more sensitive to light and vision gets blurred.
Twitches are painless but when they last for several hours, the entire face might start spasming or the upper eyelid may droop. Call a physician if this happens, or if twitching persists for a week. Common causes for persistent twitching include:
Rarely, persistent eyelid twitching is a sign for more serious problems including such as:
• Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder that produces repetitive involuntary movements and vocalizations
• Parkinson’s Disease, caused by the brain producing less dopamine that controls movement
• Bell’s Palsy, which occurs when muscles on one side of the face are weakened
• Dystonia, a condition related to Parkinson’s in which certain muscles continuously and uncontrollably contract
Sometimes the twitching is caused by pressure on the facial nerve. Surgery is one option to relieve this.
Why is My Right Eye Twitching? Why is My Left Eye Twitching?
Why would one eye twitch and not the other? Often, only one eye is affected by an underlying problem like conjunctivitis.
There used to be an old superstition that the left eye twitching meant that something bad was about to happen, while right eye twitching foretold something good.
There’s an explanation for this. In the past, the right side was preferred over the left. Left-handed people were considered clumsy, partly because they were often “corrected” and forced as children to use their right hands instead of what was natural for them.
In fact, the French word for left is “gauche,” which means “lacking ease” while the word for “right” — “à droit” — expresses grace. That’s why the alpha guy has his right-hand man. But now, there’s evidence that his lefty friend playing the pub quiz might be smarter!
How Can I Stop Eye Twitching?
Anyone who’s dealing with this problem wants to know how to stop eye twitching.
Most eyelid twitching stops on its own, especially if you avoid caffeine, alcohol, and other stimulants. If the twitching began soon after you started a medication, call the prescribing physician or pharmacist to ask about side effects.
If you’ve been working a lot, especially in front of a monitor, take a break for several hours or even a day. Get some sleep.
Artificial tears, which is available over the counter, can ease the problem if you have dry eye. Chronic dry eye can be treated with prescription eyedrops.
Doctors can treat the severe eyelid spasm cases by injecting the area around the eye with botulinum toxin (Botox) or a similar treatment that relaxes the muscles. This is effective for a few months. Sometimes anti-seizure and antianxiety medications can help, too.
Some patients say biofeedback and acupuncture help relieve twitching. Tinted glasses might be helpful, which makes sense for people with light sensitivity.
For more information about eye problems, diagnosis, and treatment, or to schedule an appointment, contact us.
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