If you've ever experienced an eye twitch—or spasm—you know it feels like the whole world can see that your eye is flickering out of control at what feels like the same pace as a hummingbird's wings. Most of the time this quivering sensation is barely noticeable to the people around you, and it ends as quickly as it begins. But, not all eye twitches are the same, and some symptoms need closer attention.
Myokymia is the most common eye twitch that involves either the upper or lower lid and only one eye at a time. The spontaneous and involuntary flutter you feel is the movement of a single muscle or muscle group (orbicularis) around the eye caused by misfiring neurons. Typically, myokymia is not a serious concern and resolves without medical treatment within a few hours or days.
Myokymia is brought on by:
In rare situations, eye twitching is a more severe neurological condition called benign essential blepharospasm (BEB). It's a non-life-threatening disorder that essentially means your basal ganglion (a group of neurons) functions abnormally. BEB occurs in both men and women, although it's more common in middle-aged and elderly women and the cause is unknown.
Initially, the muscles in your eyes contract and cause twitching, excessive blinking, eyelid spasms, fluttering, and squeezing. In time, the involuntary movements make it difficult to keep your eyes open. Although patients with blepharospasm have normal, healthy eyes, because the condition is characterized by forcible closure of the eyelids, it can result in functional blindness. However, treatments such as surgery to remove eyelid muscles, oral drug therapy or Botox injections to temporarily paralyze some of the eyelid muscles have been documented to calm or stop persistent eyelid twitches.
So, if you notice your eye trembling, find your zen place, get some rest, use a cold compress on your eyes, lay off the rosé, and take a hiatus from espresso shots in your morning lattes. If the spasm is caused by something in your eye, or the twitching won't let up, have the situation assessed by your eye doctor.