WE'VE all had a twitchy eyelid at some point or other.
While it can be annoying, it's not usually caused by anything worrying – though it could be a sign to need catch up on sleep or take a break from your laptop.
Often the flutter at the corner of your eye will feel more noticeable that it actually is and others aren't likely to notice it.
If you're getting a twitchy eye from time to time, the NHS says it's mostly likely caused by
- stress and anxiety
- tiredness and exhaustion
- drinking caffeine or alcohol
- some medicines – check the side effects on the packet or leaflet
It could also be down to have irritated or dry peepers, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
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It said your eye twitch will usually fall into two categories:
- Eyelid myokymia – a mild case of occasional eye twitching in which most patients do not require treatment
- Benign essential blepharospasm – sustained, involuntary contractions that make your eye partially or completely close
If you're affected by this second category, your fluttery eye might be a little more than annoying. Though it'll usually get better on its own, you might require treatment, Johns Hopkins said.
A study published in 2020 suggested that 20 to 30 per cent of people with benign essential blepharospasm have a family history of the condition.
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But it could also be brought on by where you live or the job you do, as a 2022 study suggested that living in a city, trying to keep up with a stressful job or spending lots of time in front of a screen or TV can affect your peepers.
How to get rid of eye twitching
Your twitchy eye may come and go, but it'll usually stop within a couple days or weeks at most.
The NHS suggested you get plenty of rest and trying to find ways to relax.
"Try not to worry about it – a twitch is usually harmless and worrying can make it worse," it said.
Cutting down on caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee might help, as well as alcohol.
But if you suspected it's being caused by medication, don't stop taking it before talking to a doctor.
Dr Cornelius Rene, a consultant oculoplastic surgeon at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, had some advice for those of us spending lots of time in front of screens.
Try remembering the 20-20-20 rule, he told the Guardian.
It involves taking a break of at least 20 seconds, every 20 minutes and looking at least 20 feet away during it.
Remember to blink even if it sounds obvious, he added, as doing so can refresh your eyes.
When should I seek help?
The NHS recommends you speak to a GP if:
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- you have a twitch for more than two weeks
- you have a twitch in more than one place
- the affected area feels weak or stiff
- you think a prescribed medicine might be causing your twitch
Dr Luke Powles, associate clinical director at Bupa Health Clinics said a prolonged twitch or any changes to the appearance of your eye might be "early indicators of multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, a progressive brain disorder that can lead to muscle stiffness and tension, making movements and facial expressions more challenging".
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