You’ve likely felt it before, as though your eye repeatedly tries to wink for you. When we experience a twitching eyelid, it’s usually something we have to wait out. The lid is moving on its own, about once every second. While a little annoying, a twitching eye is usually mild and lasts for just a minute or two.
Minor eyelid twitching is the most common of twitches and is often linked to fatigue, stress, alcohol and caffeine. Minor eyelid twitches are typically painless, but it is possible for your cornea or the conjunctiva (a membrane that lines your eyelids) to become irritated.
What Causes Eye Twitching?
The most likely cause for your minor eyelid twitching is an unusual signal in your face muscles or brain. As mentioned above, these twitches happen when we’re tired or stressed or have been smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee or alcohol.
In more severe cases, it is possible that eye twitching is part of a nervous system disorder such as Bell’s Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, or Tourette’s Syndrome. However, twitching is likely to be experienced after other significant symptoms (and often a diagnosis) have occurred. Certain medications can also cause eye twitching, particularly those that treat psychosis or epilepsy disorders.
Treatment or Prevention
Most twitches will disappear as mysteriously as they came. Even if the twitch persists for a few hours or days, it’s still more likely to go away on its own than through medical interference. Nevertheless, it never hurts to decrease your caffeine intake, increase your amount of sleep, and stay hydrated. For those who work in front of a computer, take frequent screen breaks.
When to See Your Doctor
Before making an appointment, do some “homework” by keeping a journal with details about each spasm, paying close attention to your alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco intake, and your fatigue and stress levels. It’s also helpful to note patterns such as twitching after breakfast. These details can help you and your doctor understand what is causing your eye twitching and help prevent it down the road.
It’s also likely that your doctor will want to know the duration of the twitching and how distracting it is to you, including how it impacts your quality of life or ability to concentrate. Some other signs you should take your twitching to the doctor include:
● Does your eyelid close entirely during the twitching?
● Is the upper eyelid starting to droop?
● Are other facial muscles beginning to twitch or spasm?
● Is there any redness, discharge, or swelling?
When caring for your eyes, the best cure is often prevention. So, if you’re concerned about twitching or any other occasional eye conditions, an appointment with your optometrist is your best bet.