Do your eyelids twitch uncontrollably? You may have eyelid spasm, a condition known medically as blepharospasm. Although this condition is benign, it may cause functional blindness since the eyelids may remain forcefully closed for several hours at a time. The root cause of blepharospasm is still unknown, but stress, fatigue, and various irritants are believed to contribute to it. The following tips may help reduce or eliminate eye twitch, depending on the severity of the condition.
Getting Rid of Minor Eyelid Spasm
The first thing to do if you have eyelid spasm is to determine its severity, whether it’s minor or severe. A minor eyelid spasm may come and go for about two to three days, then go away on its own. If your eye twitch is minor, the following tips may help you reduce or get rid of the condition completely.
- Try to relax more: Stress can induce nervous tics, like eyelid spasms, so it helps to relax more in your daily life. For many people, eye twitching can occur or worsen during stressful situations; for instance, if you’re going to deliver a speech before an audience or you’re going to read a paper in front of a class. Try to relax and take some deep breaths before the event. Visualize yourself doing the task calmly and completing it successfully. Positive affirmations like this relieve stress and reduce associated symptoms like eye twitching.
- Don’t drink too much coffee: A cup of coffee everyday helps you to stay alert for work or school, but too much may have harmful consequences on your body. Experts believe caffeine overdose contributes a lot to eyelid spasm, so go easy on your coffee. Aside from eye twitch, caffeine overdose may also cause sleep disturbances, restlessness, irregular heartbeat, headache, nausea, delirium, and tense muscles.
- Get plenty of sleep: Another factor that contributes to eye twitching is sleep deprivation. You may be lacking sleep because you’re studying or working too hard. Sleep deprivation may also result from caffeine overdose or a stressful lifestyle. Figure out the cause of your sleep deprivation, and then address it to reduce or eliminate your eye twitch. Aside from eye twitch, sleep deprivation also causes tremors, irritability, slurred speech, depression, and heart disease.
- Apply a cool compress: Take a clean towel or washcloth, soak it in cold water, wring it out, and then fold it to a comfortable size. Lie down on a comfortable surface, and place the cool compress over your eyes for about 20 minutes. The cold temperature constricts your blood vessels, drawing blood away from the muscles around your eyes, easing the spasm. Do not use a warm compress since heat will bring more blood to the muscles, aggravating the problem.
- Take some antihistamines: Over-the-counter antihistamines may be able to reduce eye twitch. These medicines are more commonly used to stop allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. It’s best to consult your doctor though before taking any antihistamine because prescription antihistamine is generally better than over-the-counter. Do not take antihistamine if you’re taking other drugs such as erythromycin, itraconazole, or ketoconazole.
- Go to a psychotherapist: Oftentimes, eye twitching signals a deeper psychological or emotional problem that you’re not aware of. Consulting a psychotherapist could help you discover your inner problems that contribute to your nervous tics. The psychotherapist may ask you questions about your life; for instance, the things that make you anxious. You can also delve deep into your consciousness by meditating for 10 minutes in the morning, and 10 minutes at night. Once you find out the inner feelings and thoughts that drive your tics, you will be able to deal with them directly.
- Consider acupuncture: Acupuncture promotes natural healing through the insertion of needles and application of heat or electrical stimulation at precise acupuncture points in the body. An acupuncturist may try to heal eye twitch by inserting needles on certain acupuncture points on the top of your head, which helps balance yin and yang. Other acupuncture points for eye twitch include: the elbows, the area between the index finger and the thumb, and the area between the big toe and the adjacent toe. He may also prescribe various herbal formula and pills. Take note however that the efficacy of acupuncture is still a controversial issue among researchers and clinicians.
Getting Rid of Severe Eyelid Spasm
Unlike a minor eyelid spasm, a severe case of eyelid spasm lasts much longer and can even become a lifelong condition. The spasms are also more forceful, which cause you to blink over and over again. The following forms of therapy may help you find some relief from this condition.
- Botulinum toxin (Botox) injection: Botulinum toxin is more commonly known for its cosmetic uses, but it’s also very effective against muscle spasms like eye twitch. The toxin is produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, and weakens muscles by blocking nerve impulses transmitted from nerve endings.To treat eyelid spasm, the physician may inject minute doses of the toxin into several sites above and below the eyes. The sites of the injection vary slightly from patient to patient, depending on the physician’s evaluation of the condition. The physician may use very fine needles to inject the toxin into the muscles under the lower lid, the brow, and on the upper lid.The benefits of the procedure could be felt one to 14 days after treatment, and they could last for three to four months. Scientific studies show that botulinum toxin injection is a very safe and effective treatment, with up to 90 percent of patients getting complete relief from their eye twitch. Side effects include: double vision, blurred vision, and drooping eyelid. All of these are usually temporary however, and the patient recovers spontaneously. Repeated treatments can leave longer lasting effects if the injections are carried out at a minimum of three-month intervals.
- Drug therapy: Compared to Botox injection, drug therapy is much more difficult. Different medicines have different mechanisms of action, and they generally produce unpredictable and short-lasting benefits. In addition, one drug may work for some patients, and not for others. If the effects of one drug wear off, you may replace the drug with another.There’s no best regimen for eye twitch, and you will only find out what’s best for you by talking to your physician. The following are the most commonly used drugs in drug therapy: Symmetrel (amantadine), Parlodel (bromocriptime), Modopar or Sinemet (levodopa), Tegretol (carbamazepine), Lioresal (baclofen), Klonapin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), Cogentin (benztropine), and Artane (trihexyphenidyl). You need a neurologist to supervise you while taking these drugs. Also, never change or stop the medications without consulting the neurologist first.
- Surgery: Don’t resort to surgery until you’ve tried safer methods of treating eye twitch, like Botox. Surgery is best for patients who can’t tolerate or have not responded well to medications or Botox. The surgical procedure most commonly used today to treat eye twitch is myectomy, which involves the removal of some or all the muscles responsible for eyelid spasm. Myectomy is very effective, and has been found to improve visual disability in 75 to 80 percent of cases of eyelid spasm.
- Occupational therapy: Since stress makes eye twitch worse, some patients may benefit from stress management courses by an occupational therapist. In these courses, patients learn different coping techniques, which they share to others during support group meetings. For example, wearing dark glasses is a common coping technique for patients. Dark glasses reduce the intensity of sunlight, which is believed to contribute to the condition, and they also hide the eyes of the user from curious onlookers.One of the effects of severe eyelid spasm is social isolation, since the patient develops low self-esteem. Also, some patients have a fear of sustained spasms while they’re driving, crossing the road, or taking part in a group activity. This leads the patient to just stay at home where he feels safe.You’ll find plenty of support from medical professionals and other patients if you undergo these courses. What’s more, new medical advances and treatments are usually shared during support group meetings or annual conferences. You can look up the location of these support groups on the Internet, where some of them also host websites that deal with eyelid spasms.
Consult your doctor now if you’re experiencing repeated eye twitch. It’s better to address this problem early, so that it won’t get any worse and cause more problems in your life.
Click here for more information on how to get rid of eye twitching.