The quarterly sales reports are due tomorrow, your youngest woke you up three times crying about nightmares and you’re on your third cold brew of the morning. Now that you finally have a moment alone in your home office, you try to focus on work. But the more you stare at your spreadsheets, the more your eyelid twitches. What is going on!?
Ok, this is an extreme example, but we can all relate… Maybe a little more than we’d like to admit. Life is full of stressful situations and our digital dependence adds more strain on our eyes. So, when Todd Altenbernd, MD, a comprehensive ophthalmologist at Banner – University Medicine Ophthalmology Clinic in Tucson, AZ, offered his experience we jumped on the opportunity to learn more.
When should I be concerned about an eye twitch?
If you are experiencing isolated twitching around one eye that lasts for just a few days, Dr. Altenbernd advised that you do not need to see a doctor. He added, “If both eyes are involved at the same time, other facial or non-facial muscles twitch in a sequence with the eyelid twitch or if other eye symptoms such as blurred vision, tearing or irritation occur, you should meet with your doctor.”
Is my coffee causing my eye to twitch?
Excess caffeine has been known to contribute to eye twitching. Cutting back on coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks is a great step. However, there are a lot of other contributors that should be considered as well:
- Have you been getting adequate rest?
- Are you on a new medication?
- Are you experiencing seasonal allergies?
- Are you spending long periods of time looking at screens?
- Have your stress levels increased recently?
- Do you smoke or drink excess alcohol?
- Have you recently moved to an area with high pollution levels?
What treatments are recommended for eye twitching?
Most people will experience benign eyelid twitching at least once in their lifetime. For some, the experience is more common, but the cause is often unknown or related to one of the considerations listed above. Treatment for eye twitching commonly includes getting more sleep, reducing stress, consuming less caffeine and avoiding harmful lights. If these treatments fail and the twitching persists, contact a Banner Health physician.
Dry eye is another very common cause of excessive blinking. However, Dr. Altenbernd added that “dry eye does not necessarily lead to the sensation of twitching. Dry eye is often associated with tearing, a foreign body sensation and intermittent blurred vision that often clears with a blink.” Treatment often includes frequent and regular use of artificial tears and omega-3 fatty acids from fish origin. Visit your ophthalmologist so that they can assess your symptoms and take a look at the eye. Managing discomfort can be a big part of resolving dry eye issues.
Dr. Altenbernd offered further insight into less common scenarios that could contribute to eye twitching. If you relate to any of these rare scenarios, you should visit your doctor to investigate deeper.
- Neurological Tics – Dr. Altenbernd explained, “There idiopathic reaction is often a pattern of sequential movements of forced eyelid(s) closure, mouth movements and limb movements as well. This can be the result of prolonged use of certain medications such as Ritalin, Adderall and long-term use of a number of anti-psychotic medications.”
- Tourette’s Syndrome – This is similar to neurological tics and often involves vocal utterances. Either noises or words. The person has difficulty suppressing the words and motions.
- Essential Blepharospasm – This is a simultaneous profound squeezing shut of both eyes. It is very difficult to open the eyes during one of these episodes. It’s a very rare reaction, which occurs in less than 5 in 100,000. It can be treated with Botox with good success. The spasms may last a week or more.
- Hemifacial Blepharospasm – This is most commonly caused by injury to the facial nerve, most often it is an intracranial arterial impingement. Symptoms include involuntary twitching or spasm of one eye lasting weeks or longer. It typically involves other facial spasms on the same side. An MRI is usually able to determine the etiology or at least rule out some of the more serious causes. While surgical treatments exist, Botox relieves the spasms in most cases.
- Facial Myokymia – This is a rhythmic contraction of facial muscles usually on one side of the face. It can be associated with serious underlying neurological disorders.
We are living in stressful times. Eye twitching, while often harmless, can be an irritating addition to your daily routine. If you are concerned or have any questions, set a time to meet with your physician or with a Banner Health ophthalmologist today.