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» In Hawaii, it is believed that twitching eyes are an indication of the arrival of a stranger!
Eye twitching is a condition which refers to the involuntary movement or muscle spasms of the eyelid. Most people experience eye twitches that occur suddenly, and disappear after a few seconds. However, twitching of the eyes can be more than just a nuisance, if it occurs more frequently and the symptoms keep recurring for a period of several days to a month. In very rare cases, the symptoms can be so severe that it becomes difficult to open the eyes. Here we shall look into the causes of twitching eyes, along with the methods of treatment for the same.

Causes of Twitching Eyes
The causes of eyelid twitching are enlisted below, and these include the common causes, along with the ones that are rare.

Common Causes
  • Dry eyes
  • Light sensitivity (photophobia)
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Lack of sleep
  • Allergies
  • Stress and fatigue
  • Air pollution
  • Excessive caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Vision problems
  • Inflammation of the cornea
  • Benign essential blepharospasm
  • Blepharitis or inflammation of the eyelids
Benign essential blepharospasm is considered the most common cause of persistent twitching of the eyelids. It is a condition characterized by involuntary twitching of the muscles of the eyelids of one or both eyes, and the person is likely to experience twitching for a long period of time. If left untreated, it can affect one's vision, or even lead to facial spasms. Adults are more prone to this condition, as compared to children.

Rare Causes
  • In rare cases, eyelid twitching can be a symptom of nerve disorders such as Parkinson's disease, Bell's palsy, etc.
  • Hemifacial spasm is another rare condition that can cause twitching of the eyelids. However, it is a neurological condition that also affects the facial muscles.
  • In rare cases, certain medications may lead to this condition.
When to See a Doctor
Though twitching eyes are mostly innocuous, they can also be a symptom of an illness. So, how do we know when it is safe to ignore a twitching eye, and when it is not? Well, if you observe any of the signs and symptoms given below, then you should fix an appointment with your doctor immediately.
  • Inflammation of the eyelids
  • Persistent twitching for about a week or more.
  • Inability to open an eyelid due to severe spasms
  • Drooping upper eyelid
  • Spasms of the facial muscles
Treatment
Usually, a twitching eye resolves on its own, without requiring any medical intervention. However, you can reduce the discomfort by using a warm compress on the eye, or massaging it gently. Depending on the underlying cause, the methods of treatment are as under.

» Dry eyes can be treated using eye drops and artificial tears.

» People suffering from twitching eyes caused due to light sensitivity, can wear sunglasses to shield the eyes from the UV rays of the sun, or wear anti-glare glasses when working for long hours on a computer.

» If the eyes twitch due to lack of sleep, then enough sleep is all that's needed. One should make it a point to sleep for at least 6-8 hours every night.

» Antihistamines can provide relief from allergic reactions that may cause twitching of eyes.

» If one is plagued with stress and fatigue, then steps should be taken to relieve stress. Short breaks between work, or planning an exercise regime to stay fit and happy, can help. Just do anything that serves as a stress buster for you!

» If excessive intake of substances such as caffeine and alcohol is the cause, then the remedy is to reduce their consumption.

» If diagnosed with magnesium deficiency, one should increase the intake of foods rich in magnesium.

» Eye twitching associated with problems in vision, would resolve with vision corrections.

» Benign essential blepharospasm can be treated with botulinum toxin, also known as Botox. Very small quantity of Botox is injected into the affected area to relieve the symptoms. Myectomy, a surgical procedure, is also recommended for patients suffering from benign essential blepharospasm.

If other treatment options fail to alleviate the condition, then physicians may opt for surgery to remove the nerve responsible for twitching of the eye. Sometimes, they also recommend the removal of the spastic muscles. So, it is important that you consult a physician, should the symptoms persist for long.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.