There’s nothing worse than trying to focus during the day with a pesky eye twitch that won’t stop flickering. You know what we mean — that repetitive, involuntary spasm of your eyelid muscle that occurs every few seconds for a minute or two.
An eye twitch can be unpredictable. It may last for several days or even longer. It may occur off and on for several days. Then, you may not experience any twitching for weeks or even months.
An eye twitch doesn’t hurt, but it sure is annoying. But could it be a sign of a more serious problem?
More annoying than harmful
Eye twitches are common and usually, they aren’t anything to worry about, says ophthalmologist Allison Babiuch, M.D. Most of the time, an eye spasm will resolve on its own without any need for medical treatment.
“Everyone always worries about a neurologic problem. They worry that something serious is going on, but that’s very rarely the case,” Babiuch says. “There are a lot of other things that can cause one or both eyes to twitch and they can last for a long time, which can be very frustrating. But they are rarely a sign of a serious problem.”
Causes for the twitch
Babiuch said the most common culprits behind the dreaded eye twitch are stress and fatigue.
Other causes of eye twitching include:
–Eyes that aren’t straight
–Eyes that need glasses
–Use of alcohol, tobacco or caffeine
To get your eye twitch to calm down, Babiuch suggests getting enough rest, cutting back on caffeine and reducing stress as much as possible.
Eye drops also can help, if your eyes need moisture.
When it’s time to see a doctor
If eye twitching seems to be lasting for a long time or is becoming particularly bothersome, Babiuch recommends a visit to an eye doctor to make sure nothing more serious going on.
“If it’s more than a few days and it’s really bothering you, or if you are having other symptoms; if you notice that your eyes are starting to look red or it feels like there is something in your eye, or you’re getting light-sensitive, or your vision is changing — these are all signs that maybe you should get evaluated,” Babiuch says.
Very rarely, eyelid spasms are a symptom of a more serious brain or nerve disorder. In these rare cases, eyelid spasms may be an early warning sign of a chronic movement disorder, especially if the spasms are accompanied by other facial twitches or uncontrollable movements.
Children who are blinking frequently or have eye twitching should see their doctor for an evaluation because they are not always able to recognize or tell an adult when something is wrong, Babiuch says.
(A Wellness Update is a magazine devoted to up-to-the minute information on health issues from physicians, major hospitals and clinics, universities and health care agencies across the U.S. Online at www.awellnessupdate.com.)