Eye Twitching: What Causes It?

8/18/2017 12:00:00 AM | Bucky LaFountain
Eye Twitching: What Causes It?

We have all experienced an eye twitch; that gentle fluttering of the eye lid, that seems to develop out of nowhere and could become annoying for as long as it persists. Perhaps you experienced it while looking at a computer screen or watching television for an extended period of time, or maybe at the end of a long work day. Sometimes this twitching occurs and only lasts a few minutes while during other times it can last sporadically for days. What does this twitching mean? Is it indicative of something more serious? And what causes it? Let's discuss this condition and look at answers to these questions.

Eye Twitches are involuntary but repetitive spasms of the muscles in the eyelid. The degree of the twitching can vary from mild to more severe. Although it usually affects the upper eyelids it can impact the bottom eyelids as well. In spite of the fact that the eye twitching is annoying and distracting it is, for the most part,  painless and unpredictably resolve itself with time. Most of the causes relating to eye twitches are usually rather benign and do not warrant much concern. These may include:

  • Eyelid Strain
  • Lack of sleep
  • General physical exertion
  • Stress
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Excessive caffeine consumption
  • Dry eye
  • Pink eye

Since many of the above related causes are commonplace in our day-to-day life, being aware of their potential effect on twitching may provide some clues when dealing with solutions to the condition. For instance, if you stare at your computer screen for an extended period of time you might unknowingly cause undue strain on your eyes at which point the best course of action might be to walk away from you computer and take a few minutes to rest your eyes in an effort to alleviate the strain. Eye twitching could also be indicative of lifestyle patterns such as excessive smoking, alcohol consumption and stress; making lifestyle changes may help resolve the issue. Even though eye twitching is usually a temporary condition and one that isn't considered to be serious,  if any of the following additional symptoms express themselves you should immediately contact your doctor:

  • Swollen and red eyes
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Continuous twitching over an extended period of time (weeks)

As an example,  eye twitching along with the above symptoms could be indicative of a more serious condition. For instance, the following conditions can can develop:

  • Bell's Palsy: This is a condition that causes the muscles on one side of the face to weaken or become paralyzed resulting in the drooping of the affected side.
  • Multiple Sclerosis: This condition can affect the optic nerve in your eye, spinal cord and brain causing loss of control of muscle and other body functions.
  • Parkinson's Disease: This condition affects the nervous system causing tremors and muscle rigidity.

Although eye twitching is most often stress related or due to fatigue from lack of sleep or over exertion, there are times when it can be indicative of more serious issues. It is important to pay attention and be aware of all the symptoms that present and err on the side of caution.  When in doubt it is always highly advisable to seek advice from your eye doctor.

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