By Dr S.S. Gill

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about EYELID TWITCHING.

Myokimia of the eyelid is a term for involuntary spasm or twitching of the eyelid. Twitching of the eyelids and eyelid spasms are quite common. It may occur in either upper or lower eyelid but most often in the lower one, although sometimes the upper eyelid may also be involved. This is an annoying problem when it happens.

Most eyelid twitches are MINOR and not dangerous. Thankfully, they also do not last for very long, although rarely, sometimes it may last for a few months. The good thing is that the eyelid spasm is often so subtle that people around us do not even notice that someone has an eyelid twitch. The MORE SERIOUS or problematic form of eyelid twitching is called blepharospasm or hemifacial spasm. These more serious forms of eyelid twitching occur less often. When it does occur, it may warrant further testing and investigation.

Some of the possible causes of eyelid twitching are as follows:

  • Stress-induced
  • Caffeine intake
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Eye fatigue
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • General fatigue

Identifying the cause for the eyelid twitching helps us to handle the treatment. Often it is just a matter of setting something right. The more serious varieties of twitching, however, may be a part of a nerve condition and may need to be investigated.

STRESS:
Mankind is now living in possibly the most stressful era of time. We are often reminded that “life is not a bed of roses.” The stresses of everyday life with regard to job stresses, health conditions and emotional issues are common problems that one may have to face. The stresses of life have often been identified as underlying causes for various health problems ranging from constipation, depression, hypertension, menstrual irregularities, decreased immunity and even precipitating heart attacks that may lead to death. We all react to stress differently. The response to stress may result in a major illness as mentioned above or just a simple annoying eyelid twitch. If the cause for the eyelid twitch has been identified as stress-induced, then concerted efforts should be taken to address it, the scope of which is beyond this article.

CAFFEINE:
Caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant drug. Caffeine was first discovered by a German chemist, Friedrich Ferdinand in 1819. Caffeine is found not only in coffee but also in some leaves, beans and fruits of some plants. Believe it or not, it can actually act as a natural pesticide that kills some insects that feed on the caffeine-containing plants. Caffeine is a stimulant that restores alertness and postpones drowsiness. It enhances the effect of the stress we experience. Additionally, caffeine also increases blood pressure and so caffeine and stress do work synergistically in a negative sense. If you do have an annoying eyelid twitch, it would be worth a try cutting-back on caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, soft-drinks, and energy drinks. The problem often is that too many of us are in some sense “addicted” to caffeine and claim to not be able to function without that morning cup of coffee!

More on Eyelid Twitch in the next issue of the Ipoh Echo.