Why is my eyelid twitching and how can I stop it?
13 April 2021
What is an eyelid twitch?
We’ve probably all experienced eyelid twitches at some point in our lives, whether they bothered us for two minutes or two hours at a time. They can be so distracting and prevent you from focusing on the task at hand, often impacting your performance at work. Eyelid twitches are also known as myokymia and are, quite simply, repetitive muscle spasms. They usually occur on the lower eyelid but can also be on the upper lid.
Myokymia, for unknown reasons, is more common in women than men, and typically begins and ceases spontaneously. Generally, the eyelid twitches will occur every few seconds and continue for several minutes before stopping, although they have been known to continue for hours – or sometimes even days – at a time. If the muscle spasm is strong enough to close your eyelid completely, it may not be myokymia but a different condition called blepharospasm.
What causes eyelid twitching?
There are a number of potential triggers for eyelid twitches. Although the twitches themselves are usually painless and harmless, they could be an indicator of another condition or problem with your eyes. The most common factors which can cause the spasms to begin are:
- Stress or anxiety
- Caffeine or alcohol consumption
- Dry eye syndrome
- Lack of sleep
- Photophobia (light sensitivity)
- Irritation caused by wind or pollution
In rare cases, excessive eyelid twitching can suggest you are in the early stages of a chronic movement disorder or a brain and nerve disorder, including Bell’s palsy, Tourette syndrome, or Parkinson’s.
How can I stop eyelid twitching?
One of the most common causes of eyelid spasms is a lack of sleep, so ensuring that you are getting your eight hours every night should help ward the unwanted eyelid twitching off. You can also try to change your diet to incorporate more healthy foods, as well as making sure you’re well-hydrated.
Dry eye syndrome can also play a part in causing myokymia. This is due to the extra stress on the eye each time you blink without sufficient lubrication. Using hydrating eye drops should help to reduce any dryness in your eyes, in turn improving any related eye twitches. Another treatment which can help dry eyes and potentially reduce the effect of myokymia is using a warm compress on your eye. This can encourage the glands in your eyes to start producing moisture again, as well as helping the muscles to relax, therefore minimising any future spasms.
In the modern world, particularly during a global pandemic, screen time is on the rise. Over exposure to digital screens can also strain our eyes and lead to eyelid twitching. You might have noticed at the end of a long day in front of your laptop, the spasms around your eye are worse than usual. Taking breaks and having time away from your screens can help significantly in reducing the effects of myokymia.
When do I need to see a doctor?
If your eyelid twitches last longer than 72 hours, it might be a good idea to visit your doctor to get checked. This also goes for a situation in which the twitches occur with other spasms in your facial muscles, or if you are experiencing a drooping eyelid in the same eye in which the twitching occurs. If you are experiencing spasms alongside redness or swelling in the affected eye, it may also be an indication of something more serious than myokymia.
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