There’s a saying that “twitching on the left eyelid forecasts fortune, while twitching on the right eyelid forecasts disaster.” While it’s true that eyelids do occasionally twitch, an abnormally twitching eyelid is a health warning from the body.
Why Do Eyelids Keep Twitching?
It’s an annoyance—short term twitching is distracting, and long term twitching starts to affect your quality of life. Why does it happen all of a sudden? This is related to the instability of the nerves around the eyelids and the abnormal discharge of electricity. Sometimes this may even cause the lower eyelids to twitch.
Possible causes are:
- Lifestyle factors: Fatigue, staying up late, stress, tension, and anxiety can all cause abnormal discharge of electricity around the eyes, meaning unstable nerves around the eyes
- Drinking too much coffee and alcohol, as too much caffeine or alcohol causes neurosensitivity
- Drug side effects: In fact, epilepsy drugs may have side effects that cause eye twitching
- Eye diseases, eye overuse, dry eyes, or eye allergies
- Other diseases including brain tumor of hemangioma, hemifacial spasm, bacterial infection, shingles virus infection.
Factors such as staying up late and fatigue are common causes of eyelid twitching. Chou Tsung-han, the attending physician of Minghantang Clinics of Chinese Medicine, pointed out that staying up late will cause what in traditional Chinese medicine is referred to as lack of energy in the liver, which has to do with why the nerves around the eyelids discharge electricity which causes the problem of abnormal eyelid twitching.
Symptoms That Require Medical Attention
Usually, even prolonged eyelid twitching should stop within one or two days. But if it persists beyond that, or is accompanied by these additional symptoms, you should seek medical attention to check for other underlying conditions.
- Eyelids that have been twitching on and off for more than two weeks
- Red, itchy, dry eyes and other eye discomfort symptoms
- Both eyelids are twitching at the same time
- Eyelid spasms, eyes that don’t open
- Numbness or weakness in the arms and legs
- A throbbing sensation in the face and nerve spasms on one half of the face
Prolonged eyelid twitching may be a sign of a bacterial infection, shingles virus infection, or hemifacial spasm. In rare cases, eyelid twitching accompanied by numbness in the hands and feet and facial nerve spasm could be a symptom of a brain tumor and these symptoms require vigilance.
7 Tips to Improve Eyelid Fluttering
In cases where one doesn’t need medical attention, here are seven tips from Dr. Chou to mitigate the problem and help the symptoms subside.
- Adjust your daily routine: The first step should be lifestyle assessment and adjustment; such as, adjusting your regular routine and avoid staying up late. Make sure that you get enough sleep. At the same time, adjust the mood, to lower stress and anxiety. For example, try abdominal breathing to help relax.
- Use warm compresses on your eyes: This helps stabilize circulation around the eyes, and relaxes tired eyes.
- Eye drops: if you have dry eyes or allergies, this can help relieve discomfort
- Reduce alcohol or caffeine intake: Drink less alcohol and caffeinated beverages such as tea of coffee
- Improve your sleep quality: Reduce the use of 3C products—computers, communication, and consumer electronics—before bed. Dim the lights in the room an hour or two before bed, and do some light stretching to relax.
- Gently rub the twitching area: Lightly press the area of the twitching nerve and massage to relieve discomfort.
- Gently press on these acupuncture points around the eyes:
If the twitching is accompanied by severe discomfort or is prolonged, you should see an ophthalmologist. If twitching persists after that, in Western medicine further treatment can be provided by a neurologist and medication, and in traditional Chinese medicine one would use acupuncture.
Epoch Health articles are for informational purposes and are not a substitute for individualized medical advice. Please consult a trusted professional for personal medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment.