A twitching eye can strike suddenly, and when it does, you probably find yourself wondering how long it will last - and if anyone can tell it's happening. Eyelid twitches may seem rare, but they are actually surprisingly common, according to Dr. Mayli Davis of Advanced Eyelid Surgery Center.
"It's called myokymia or blepharospasm and is a muscle contraction or spasm in the eye," she said. "It usually happens on the lower eyelid of just one eye, but it can occur in both eyes and in the upper eyelid, as well."
Davis said the twitches are usually harmless and go away on their own, but if the condition begins to interfere with your daily life, you should have it checked out by a medical professional. Twitches are commonly caused by things like fatigue, stress, sleep deprivation, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.
Twitching Eye Could Be a Sign of Other Problems
Sometimes a twitching eye occurs because of a medication you're taking. It can also be caused by blepharitis, dry eyes, pink eye and even light sensitivity. While these are not serious issues, they should be evaluated by a doctor who specializes in eyes in order to determine if treatment is necessary.
Occasionally, and very rarely, a twitching eye could be a sign of something more serious such as Bell's palsy, dystonia, Parkinson's disease or Tourette's syndrome.
Nutrient Deficiency Causes Eyelid Twitches
Sometimes a twitching eyelid can be a signal from your body that you need more vitamin B12. A B12 deficiency has been linked to eye twitches in a study conducted in India. This vitamin deficiency can also lead to muscle weakness and vision problems in the long term, so it's important to make sure you're eating lots of red meat, milk, chicken and eggs if you think this may be the cause.
Another possible nutrient deficiency related to a twitching eye is magnesium. Magnesium keeps all the muscles in the body functioning properly. If you aren't consuming enough green leafy vegetables, avocados, bananas, beans or yogurt, you may want to try to up your intake and see if it relieves your twitching eyelid episodes.
When to See a Doctor
"If you are concerned about your eyelid twitching, it's always a good idea to get it checked out by a medical professional," said Davis.
Some symptoms are more concerning than others. If your eyelid has been twitching for more than a week, it's definitely time to get it looked at. In addition, if the eyelid begins to droop or closes completely, make an appointment immediately. Other things to look out for include other facial spasms, redness, swelling or discharge from the eye or eyes.