Periodic comprehensive eye exams by an eye doctor are essential to monitor the health of your eyes and diagnose suspected problems. Checking the position of each eye and its movements will reveal crossed eyes or other forms of strabismus. The exam may include these parts:
An eye chart uses letters of decreasing size to determine the sharpness of your vision at a distance.
The retinoscope projects a thin beam of light into the eye. When used with the rotating lens dial (called...
Most people develop a minor eyelid twitch at some point in their lives. The causes include:
This minor form of twitch is painless and harmless. It usually goes away on its own. But it can be quite annoying. And that's especially true if the spasms are strong enough to cause the eyelids to completely close shut before they reopen.
In some cases eye twitching is more than a temporary nuisance. Some people have spasms that occur frequently throughout the day. Symptoms can recur for days, weeks, or even months. That can cause a lot of emotional distress. It can interfere with quality of life.
In its most serious forms, which are relatively uncommon, eye twitching can become chronic. It can cause persistent winking and squinting. If it progresses to the point where you have difficulty keeping your eyes open, it can cause severe vision impairment.
Sometimes, eye twitching can be a sign of eye conditions such as:
Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids)
Very rarely, it can be a sign of a brain or nerve disorder, such as:
Eye twitching can also be a side effect of certain medications. The most common offenders include drugs used in the treatment of psychosis and epilepsy.
Types of Eye Twitching
There are three common types of eye twitch:
Minor eyelid twitch
Benign essential blepharospasm
Minor eyelid twitch is often associated with lifestyle factors, such as:
Lack of sleep
Use of alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine
Minor eyelid twitch also can be caused by irritation of the surface of the eye (cornea) or the membranes lining the eyelids (conjunctiva).
Sometimes the cause of minor eyelid twitch cannot be identified. In almost all cases it is painless and harmless.
Benign essential blepharospasm usually develops in mid- to late-adulthood and gradually worsens. It affects about 20,000 to 50,000 Americans. It's twice as common in women as in men. It is not a serious condition but can interfere with your daily life in more severe cases.
Typically, benign essential blepharospasm starts with excessive blinking and/or eye irritation that may be triggered by:
Irritants such as bright light, wind, or air pollution
As the condition worsens, it may lead to an increased sensitivity to light, blurry vision, and facial spasms. In severe cases, the spasms can become so intense that the eyelids stay shut for up to several hours.
Researchers believe that benign essential blepharospasm may result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Although the condition is usually random, it sometimes runs in families.
Hemifacial spasm is quite rare and involves more than just the eyelid muscles. It also usually involves the muscles around the mouth. Unlike other types of eyelid twitching, it usually affects only one side of the face.
In most cases, hemifacial spasm is caused by an artery pressing on the nerve to the facial muscles.