Eyelid Twitch or Blepharospasm
An eyelid twitch, also known as a myokymia or blepharospasm, is a medical condition characterized by uncontrollable twitching of the eyelid, causing involuntary blinking. A number of things can cause an eyelid twitch, and the condition usually clears up on its own, although medical interventions can be used to speed the process along. As a general rule, although irritating, an eyelid twitch is not a cause for concern.
The three leading causes for eyelid twitches are stress, caffeine, and fatigue. Often, cutting back on caffeine intake and getting a good night’s sleep will resolve the problem, although a recurrence can suggest that you may need to make some lifestyle changes.
Simple stress-reducing techniques like deep breathing, brief meditation, stretching, and using a stress ball may help to resolve an eyelid twitch, as can more long-term measures, like rearranging a work schedule. Corneal irritations and inflammations around the eye can also cause an eyelid twitch.
The severity and length of an eyelid twitch can vary. Some people experience very mild twitching, which may create a tingling sensation, while other people experience spasms so extreme that the eye fully closes or opens with each twitch. An eyelid twitch can last a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few days, and in some cases patients have dealt with eyelid twitches for weeks.
Along with the twitch, many people experience an increased sensitivity to light, because the lack of control over their eyelids makes it hard to control the amount of light which enters the eye. Blurry vision can also be experienced. If people strain their eyes trying to read computer screens and fine print with an eyelid twitch, they can also get headaches. Many people also get short tempered, because eyelid twitches are very annoying.
5 in 100,000 people in the general population suffer from the twitching of the upper eyelid, striking females more often than men (1.8 females to 1 man). It is more common as we get older, with two thirds of patients in the over 60 population.
• Excessive blinking
• Exposure to bright lights
• Dry eyes
• Air pollution
• Exposure to wind
• Injury or abnormal functioning of the brains’ basal ganglia
• Allergies and overuse of nasal decongestants
• Increase your sleep - Lack of sleep is a major cause of blepharospasm. Increasing the amount of sleep has been shown to help 75% of sufferers!
• De-stress - A recent study showed that relaxation discontinued eye twitch in 55% of patients.
• Wear dark glasses.
• Share the experience with others - Talking about your fears and worries has been shown to help 22% of patients.
• Remove excess eyelashes from the outer corner of the eye.
• Practice lid hygiene- Twice a day; apply a washcloth with very warm water to your lids for approximately 4 minutes. Then gently rub your lashes and eyelids, horizontally, with the washcloth. This technique not only provides soothing and cleansing to the area but also provides traction which has been shown to relieve 22% of patients with eye twitch.
• Use eye drops - Using moisturizing eye drops (NOT the drops to clear the whites of your eyes) has been shown to relieve twitching in 24% of patients.
• Eat to stop the twitch - Eat a banana a day to increase your intake of potassium as it is one of the most important minerals for relieving dry eyes.
When to seek medical attention
Eye twitch should be followed by a physician if any of the following exist:
If the eyelid twitch is occurring in conjunction with other spasms and/or muscle twitches.
• If the eyelid is closing.
• If the twitch is occurring while on other medications (blepharospasm is known to occur with some anti-Parkinson’s drugs specifically).
• If the twitch continues and causes you increased worry and anxiety.
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