Eyelid twitching is a repetitive, involuntary spasm of the eyelid muscles. A twitch typically occurs in the upper lid but can also occur in both the lower and upper lids. In most cases, these spasms are relatively mild and feels like a minimal tug on the eyelid. Others can suffer a spasm that is considerably powerful that it compels the closing of the eyelid completely. Some do not even have any evident symptoms.
The spasms usually occur every few seconds for 1-2 minutes. The occurrences of eyelid twitching are random. The twitch can occur on and off for several days. After that, the individual will not experience any eyelid twitching for weeks or even months.
The twitches are harmless and painless but can be bothersome. Most cases resolve on their own without requiring treatment. In rare cases, eyelid twitching can be an early indication of a chronic movement disorder particularly if the spasms occur with other facial spasms or overwhelming movements.
What are the causes?
Eyelid twitching can occur without any evident cause and since they are rarely an indication of a serious issue, the cause is not investigated. Nevertheless, eyelid twitching might be caused or aggravated by the following:
- Eyelid strain
- Eye irritation
- Lack of sleep
- Side effects of medications
- Physical exertion
- Use of tobacco, alcohol or caffeine
When to seek care
Eyelid twitching is rarely serious to warrant emergency care. Nevertheless, chronic spasms might be an indication of a critical brain or nervous system disorder. It is best to consult a doctor if an individual experiences chronic eyelid spasms or any of the following:
- Eye is swollen, reddened or has unusual drainage
- Upper eyelid is drooping
- Twitching starts to affect other parts of the face
- Eyelid is completely closed every time the eyelids start to twitch
- The twitching lingers for a number of weeks
Most cases of eyelid twitching improve without treatment in a few days or weeks. The usual causes of the spasms include fatigue, stress and excess intake of caffeine. There are ways to ease the spasms such as the following:
- Adequate sleep
- Limit the consumption of caffeine
- Maintain proper lubrication of the eye surfaces as well as the membranes using over-the-counter artificial tears
- Apply a warm compress over the eyes once a spams starts.