Eyelid spasm or tremor is a repetitive, sporadic, and involuntary movement. Although it is a benign condition and very common among the population, for many it can be annoying. Let’s see what its main causes are and how to avoid it.
It is commonly called a tremor of the eyelid, but this condition can be a myokymia or a blepharospasm. This is an involuntary and repetitive contraction of the orbicularis muscle, that is, the one that surrounds the eye.
There are usually three forms of eyelid tremor or blepharospasm:
- Essential benign blepharospasm: it is an alteration that normally affects both eyes, causing involuntary, intense and chronic closing.
- Hemifacial spasm: It is a disorder that occurs only in the muscles on one side of the face.
- Minor palpebral spasm, twitch, or tic: it is a slight contraction of the eyelid. It rarely requires treatment and usually resolves spontaneously.
Those with these types of contractions report that they are usually mild and feel like a gentle tug on the eyelid. This can happen every few seconds for a couple of minutes.
In turn, the appearance of these episodes is unpredictable, since they can be constant throughout the day, as well as disappear for weeks or months.
Most cases of eyelid tremor resolve without the need for treatment and is rarely a warning sign of a chronic movement disorder or health problem.
Why does the eyelid tremble?
Because tremor in the eyelid is rarely a sign of a serious problem, its causes are often not investigated and it is expected to go away on its own.
However, there are records of certain factors that are linked to its appearance:
- Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid).
- Excessive use of alcohol, caffeine, or tobacco.
- Eyelid distention.
- Side effects of certain medications, especially antihistamines or antidepressants.
- Exposure to environmental irritants, such as sunlight or artificial light, earth or wind.
- Lack of sleep.
- Eye irritation.
- Dry eyes.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Physical overexertion.
Involuntary blinking can also be linked to:
- Alterations in the central nervous system.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Bell’s palsy (facial palsy).
- Meige syndrome
- Tourette syndrome.
Although it is usually a benign condition, it can last or worsen over time, causing facial spasms, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision.
How to avoid trembling in the eyelid?
Although involuntary blinking usually disappears over time, if it persists it can be very annoying and will require professional help.
Treatment will depend on what caused the eyelid twitch or spasm. A doctor can make a diagnosis and advise different options:
- Drink less caffeine: be it coffee, tea, or energy drinks.
- Get enough sleep and regularize sleep schedules.
- Keeping eye surfaces lubricated with over-the-counter or prescription artificial tears or eye drops.
- Receive injections of botulinum toxin (Botox). They are often used to treat benign essential blepharospasm, although as the effects of the injection wear off, more applications may be needed.
- Reduce the consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
- Use warm compresses on the eyes when tremors occur.
- Wear sunglasses to be outside. This helps to minimize sensitivity to light.
For severe cases, surgery may be used to remove some of the muscles and nerves in the eyelids.
When to see a doctor?
Tremors of the eyelids are rarely severe enough to require emergency medical treatment.
However, if the involuntary blinking is accompanied by the following symptoms, you should consult a health professional as soon as possible:
- The eyelid closes completely when the tremor occurs.
- The upper eyelid falls off.
- The tremors or spasms continue for several weeks.
- The tremors or spasms begin to affect other parts of the face.
- Eyes are red, swollen, or have unusual discharge.
Eyelid spasm or tremor is a repetitive, sporadic and involuntary movement. It is often known as myokymia or blepharospasm.
Its main causes include dietary factors (consuming a lot of alcohol or caffeine), habits (sleeping little or badly), medical conditions (Parkinson’s disease, Tourette syndrome or multiple sclerosis), exerting a lot of physical effort, or suffering from stress, anxiety or fatigue. It can also occur as a side effect of certain medications.
Although it is a benign condition that usually disappears over time, for many it is very annoying.
To avoid it, professionals recommend wearing sunglasses to be outside, using lubricants or eye drops and reducing the consumption of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco, among other options.
You should consult a doctor if the involuntary blinking is accompanied by irritation, redness, inability to lift the eyelids or extension of the spasms to the rest of the face.
Sources consulted: American Academy of Ophthalmology, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Eye Institute.