Almost everyone has experienced a twitching eyelid at some point in their lives. When it continues for a longer time period it can be quite an annoyance. So what is an eyelid twitch? Also called a tic, it is a spasm of the eyelid. Coming on suddenly, an eyelid twitch can be very brief and last just for a few minutes, or can even last days. You may become self-conscious and fear that everyone notices the twitch, but in most cases the twitch is small enough that it cannot be seen when someone looks at you.
Most eyelid twitches do not happen in both eyes at the same time, do not interfere with vision, and are completely harmless. But, some neurological problems can also cause these twitches.
One condition is blepharospasm, which is characterized by twitching of all 4 eyelids (i.e., the upper and lower eyelids of both eyes), frequent blinking, and sometimes causes the inability to open the eyes.
Hemifacial spasm is another condition, and always affects just one side of the face. Spasms happen around the eye and frequently one side of the mouth twitches as well.
In general, these less common conditions tend to cause the eyelids to close more fully and for longer periods of time, limiting or completely blocking vision. If you are experiencing one of the above symptoms, consultation with an Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon is highly advisable.
Fortunately, when most people experience an eyelid twitch it is not serious, and is merely a short-term annoyance. If you find the twitch lasting longer or happening more often, there are a few things you can do to help it stop.
- Take a nap. When you are extremely tired, your eyelids may twitch. Simply getting some sleep can help.
- Relax. Stress is also a common cause of eyelid twitches. Most of the time we cannot simply stop being stressed, but finding some kind of relaxing activities can help.
- Put down the caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, and stimulants can lead to eyelid twitches. Simply cutting back on caffeinated soda, coffee, and tea can help.
- Use lubricating eye drops. Dry, irritated eyes can cause spasms. Try using lubricating eye drops and talk to your eye doctor if your eyes are frequently dry and uncomfortable.