It feels like an uncontrollable, persistent, pesky tick…a rapid quivering of the eye lid that seemingly comes out of nowhere. But twitching eyes sometimes do have clear underlying causes. Most of the times, twitchy eyes are a temporary condition, with most causes benign in nature.
So, why does your eye twitch?
Fasciculation, the scientific terminology for eye twitching, can last as briefly as a few seconds to several days and stress is often times the main culprit.
Though stress comes in all shapes and sizes—physical, emotional and mental to name a few—if not properly managed, stress can manifest in several ways.
Let’s say you haven’t been sleeping well because of stress at work, so you try to power through the day by drinking several cups of coffee.
Too much caffeine can cause ‘hemifacial spasms,’ according to EveryDayHealth.com, which is characterized by twitching or muscle contractions on one side of the face (rarely will excess caffeine produce twitching in both eyes).
Lack of sleep
This one pretty much says it all.
If indeed eye twitches travel to other areas of the face, you might have a neurological dysfunction. In a relatively small number of instances, a neurological disorder such as blepharospasm can cause abnormal eye twitching. ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), an autoimmune disorder characterized by complete lack of muscle control, can cause chronic involuntary muscle contractions of the eyelid.
Bell’s Palsy, characterized by drooping and facial paralysis on one side of the face, has no known clear-cut cause. One theory is a viral infection of the facial nerve. Bell’s Palsy is often temporary, lasting for up to six weeks, according to MedicineNet.com.
If the cornea or iris becomes irritated or infected, either by a virus, bacteria or environmental irritant, eye twitching could accompany other symptoms.
Treatment for Eye Twitching
For more severe cases of eye twitching, botulinum toxin (what’s used in Botox injections) has been found to be an excellent method of treating severe cases, says everydayhealth.com.
Eyelid twitches that travel down the face or involve other facial muscles are definitely cause for further evaluation, says everydayhealth.com. Your doctor will check for other symptoms such as grimacing or facial spasms, and will probably refer you to your primary care physician for follow-up.
Treatment for Bell’s Palsy and other causes of facial paralysis that may result in eye twitches include steroidal medications such as prednisone. Anti-viral medications such as acyclovir may also be prescribed.
Home Remedies for Eye Twitching
Limiting caffeine intake, taking over-the-counter natural sleep remedies such as melatonin, and moderately exercising on most days of the week as well as getting 7-8 hours of sleep can help combat stress and reduce eye twitching. If you consume one-half cup of coffee in the morning and another half-cup a couple hours in the afternoon, this can prevent caffeine-withdrawal symptoms.