What does it mean when your eye twitches?

November 23, 2014 | 0

There are many superstitions associated with eye twitches. However, in truth there are medical causes linked to eye twitches.

Also called eyelid spasm, eye spasm, or eye muscle twitch, eye twitching refers to involuntary movement or contraction of the muscles present near and around the eyelids. This abnormal uncontrolled action is what causes eye twitches. If it occurs sporadically and is temporary, then eye twitches are generally harmless. However, prolonged and persistent cases of eye twitching may be a symptom of some severe underling ocular disorder or some other medical condition.

Sponsored link

Causes of eye twitches

Eye twitches may arise due to a variety of causes. Some of the common causes are listed below:

  • Benign essential blepharospasm:It is regarded as the most prevalent cause of chronic eye twitches. The condition is identified by involuntary eyelid muscle twitching of one or both the eyes. Affected people are more likely to experience eye twitches for prolonged periods. Untreated cases can result in facial spasms and vision changes. Adults are more susceptible to this condition than children.
  • Alcohol abuse or excessive intake of coffee: Both alcohol and coffee can affect the nervous system. This can then adversely affect any area of the body, including the eyes. Increased consumption of coffee, sodas, tea, and alcohol is more likely to increase the risk to nervous system abnormalities and subsequent eye twitches than normal intake.
  • Dry eyes: It is anothervery common cause of eye twitches. It can arise as a normal part of aging; due to use of antidepressants and antihistamines; increased consumption of alcohol; and prolonged sessions in front of the computer screen. Treating dry eyes will help alleviate and prevent eye twitches.
  • Eye allergies: Continuous exposure to pollution, dust, and other environmental elements can cause the eyes to form allergies, weaken the eyes, and eventually cause eye twitches.
  • Inadequate sleep or rest: It is the most common cause of eye twitches. Lack of sleep prevents the eyes muscles from relaxing which makes them excessively tired. This then activates ocular spasms which leads to eye twitches. The best treatment is to get at least 6 to 8 hours of night sleep every day.
  • Eye strain: Varied activities such as working for long hours can cause the eye muscles to stress and strain a lot harder than usual, leading to eye twitches. A few activities that can cause excessive strain on the ocular muscles include continuous exposure to TV and computer screens; navigating strong lights during nighttime driving; changes in vision which cause the eyes to strain harder so as to be able to able to focus on objects; and reading in dim light. Vision changes can be corrected by wearing glasses.
  • Physical, emotional, and mental stress and fatigue: Elevated stress is an inevitable aspect of today’s hectic lifestyle. The body reacts to the presence of elevated stress in varied ways and one of them is the occurrence of eye twitches. Yoga, exercise, a healthy diet and lifestyle, sufficient rest, etc. can help alleviate all forms of stress and prevent eye twitches.
  • Other common causes: Eye twitches may also arise due to photosensitivity, pink eye or conjunctivitis, vision problems, air pollution, vitamin and magnesium deficiency, inflammation of the cornea, anxiety and phobias, and blepharitis i.e., an ocular condition characterized by inflammation of the eyelids.

Some rare causes of eye twitches are as follows:

Sponsored link
  • Neurological injuries or disorders like Parkinson’s disease, basal ganglia, Bell’s palsy, epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, hemifacial spasm, and dystonia.
  • Eye twitches can occur as part of withdrawal symptoms to psychoactive drugs like benzodiazepine, or as a side effect of certain medications like those used to treat epilepsy and psychosis.

eye twitching

What does it mean when your eye twitches? Associated myths

There are several superstitions associated with eye twitches. Some people consider it to be lucky while others regard it as a bad omen. It may mean that someone is bad-mouthing you or remembering you, or it may be an indication of some big event (good or bad) that may occur in the future.

In some cultures and countries, eye twitches are thought to be unlucky or lucky as per the gender of the affected person and the eye (left or right) that is experiencing the twitching. For example, left eye twitches are considered unlucky for men and lucky for women, while the opposite is regarded as being true for right eye twitches.

Treatment of eye twitches

Eye twitches is a harmless condition which usually resolves on its own. Patients may visit a doctor if they experience:

  • Continuous eye twitching for 5 to 7 days or more
  • Eyelid inflammation
  • Occurrence of extreme spasms which prevent opening of the eyelid
  • Facial muscles spasms
  • Drooping of the upper eyelid

As per the underlying cause, eye twitches may be treated in the below listed ways:

  • Use cold water to flush the eyes. This will alleviate excess stress on the ocular muscles and decrease the severity of eye twitches.
  • Minor discomfort can be eased via gentle eye massages or the use of warm compresses.
  • Dry eyes can be cured with artificial tears and eye drops.
  • Eye twitches that arise due to lack of sleep can be alleviated with changes in sleeping habits, wherein patients get a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of night time sleep.
  • Wear sunglasses when outside and/or use anti-glare glasses when in front of a computer. This will ease the discomfort in people with increased sensitivity to light.
  • Eye twitches caused due to allergic reactions can be treated with antihistamine medications.
  • Visit an eye doctor to diagnose the cause of vision disturbances. The doctor may prescribe glasses to correct any vision changes.
  • Reduce the intake of alcohol, coffee, tea, caffeine-containing beverages, alcohol, and sodas to find relief from eye twitches caused due to abuse of the above mentioned items.
  • Engage in stress busting activities and take rest to reduce physical and mental stress.
  • Increase the consumption of vitamin and magnesium rich foods or supplements, if you lack these nutrients.
  • Certain oral tranquilizers and anti-epileptic medications are sometimes prescribed to treat eye twitches. Their effects are however temporary and work only for some patients.
  • Botox is commonly used to treat benign essential blepharospasm. Another treatment option is myectomy which is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of certain ‘causative’ muscles and nerves from the eyelids.
Sponsored link

About the Author (Author Profile)