Involuntary eye twitching can be frustrating, and perhaps even embarrassing. And eyelid twitch, or myokymia, is repetitive spasming of the eyelid muscle.
Typically, a twitch will occur in the upper lid, but also can happen in both upper and lower lids. Myokymia will probably feel like a gentle tugging on the eyelid and will typically occur every fee seconds for a minute or two.
Moreover, twitches are unpredictable. Myokymia may occur on and off for a few days or may not recur for weeks or months. Eye spasms are rarely harmful.
What causes myokymia?
Eyelid twitching may have no decipherable cause — but other times it may be caused or worsened by:
- Eye irritation
- Eyelid strain
- Lack of sleep
- Physical exertion
- Medication side effects
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine
Chronic spasms, on the other hand, are known as benign essential blepharospasm (BEB). BEB is a type of spasming that’s considered a progressive neurological disorder — this means that twitches can lead to sustained eyelid closure or sustained, repetitive movements.
BEB usually looks like uncontrollable spasms in both eyes and has no exact cause, however, it can be worsened by:
- Blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelid
- Conjunctivitis, or pinkeye
- Dry eyes
- Environmental irritants (ie. wind, bright lights, sun, or air pollution)
- Light sensitivity
- Too much alcohol or caffeine
Can eyelid twitching be cured?
In order to prevent future myokymia you should be aware of your tobacco, caffeine and alcohol intake, as well as your stress levels. Also, you might keep a journal of your spasms. If you notice myokymia happening when you don’t get enough sleep, try to adjust your sleep hygiene.
Benign essential blepharospasm can be treated with botulinum toxin injections, which will relax the eyelid muscles and stop the chronic spasming. Alternative treatments include medication, eye surgery, or deep brain stimulation surgery.
Talk to your doctor about your myokymia if it’s becoming bothersome or interfering with your day-to-day life.