We?ve all experienced that uncontrollable twitching and jumping in the eye or eyelid and it?s very annoying. You could be reading, surfing the net, cooking and all of a sudden you feel that telltale muscle spasm or nerve jump or whatever it is. And every time it happens we wonder what?s causing it. Let?s see how science defines this phenomenon.
Eye twitching s a repetitive, uncontrollable blinking or spasm of the eyelid, usually on the upper lid. It usually affects the eye muscles in both eyes and when it happens you usually feel some involuntary movement every few seconds for a couple of minutes. In some severe cases it can even continue on and off for a couple of days, which can be really annoying and then disappear suddenly.
What causes eye twitching?
If you?ve ever been to a doctor for this problem you must know that even doctors aren?t sure what?s causing it exactly. Most usually it happens due to stress and fatigue or excessive amounts of caffeine, tobacco and alcohol. It can also be linked to dry eyes, excessive eye strain, allergies, or some irritation of the surface of the eye or the membrane. Sometimes it can even just happen for no reason at all and in the majority of cases it?s painless and harmless and goes away in a matter of minutes on its own.
However, there are certain cases when eye twitching can be a symptom of a more severe neurological disorder, such as blepharospasm (an abnormal blinking or spasm of the eyelids) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig?s disease.
Blepharospasm develops in mid to late adulthood and there are about 2000 cases every year in the US alone. It?s a condition which is more common in women than in men. It?s not very serious but if it?s not discovered early the situation might worsen. As the condition progresses you might feel that you?re extra sensitive to light, your vision might get blurry and your entire face might starts twitching. In severe cases the spasms might get so strong to close your eyelids for a few hours.
If your twitching last for a few minutes and you don?t experience it often there?s nothing to worry about. However, if you experience the following symptoms you should see an eye doctor:
- If your eye is twitching for more than a week;
- If the twitching causes the eyelid to close completely;
- If you start feeling spasms on your entire face;
- If your eyes start swelling, get red or you notice eye discharge;
- If your upper eyelid starts drooping.
If you have some of the symptoms you should definitely go see your eye doctor and explain what you feel. He?ll examine your symptoms and if he suspects a neurological disorder he may refer you to a neurologist or other specialist.
If your twitching is not related to a neurological disorder just seeing an eye doctor and determining there?s nothing wrong might stop the twitching. Otherwise you should consider trying to reduce stress, sleep more and reduce the caffeine intake. You can also try hot and cold compresses to relax the muscles around the eyes. You can even try acupuncture and massage to relieve the discomfort.