Almost everyone has experienced an eyelid spasm. Also known as blepharospasm, eyelid spasms are generally benign but, in rare cases, can be related to neurological problems. They cause your eyelid to twitch uncontrollably and are more common in women. Blepharospasm may also run in families, and may even worsen over time. Here are some things you should know about the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of eyelid spasms.
Eyelid spasms are caused by spasms of the muscles that surround your eye, and typically happen when you're tired, anxious, or stressed. Eyelid spasms can also occur after you have been exposed to bright light, consumed too much caffeine, or taken decongestant medication.
If your eyelid spasms fail to get better after a few days, see your eye doctor. In rare cases, blepharospasm can be associated with Parkinson's disease or Tourette syndrome. While blepharospasm may be a symptom of one of the aforementioned neurological disorders, it is rarely the only symptom. If you have Parkinson's or Tourettes, you would probably exhibit other symptoms such as gait problems, motor tics, excessive blinking, and sometimes auditory or verbal tics.
Your physician will perform a comprehensive examination and ask you if you are having other symptoms. Your doctor will also inquire about your family and personal medical history, and if he or she believes your eyelid twitching is caused by a neurological problem, you will be referred to a neurologist.
The neurologist may order diagnostic imaging examinations of your eyes and brain, such as a computed tomography scan, or CT scan, and a magnetic resonance imaging test, or MRI. If extensive testing fails to reveal the source of your blepharospasm, your doctor will simply recommend that you get enough rest, avoid caffeine, monitor the side effects of your medications, and try to manage your stress levels.
In addition to the above conservative interventions, your doctor may recommend that you consider a Botox treatment for your blepharospasm. Botulinum toxin, or Botox, helps treat blepharospasm by temporarily weakening the muscles that surround your eye.
The botulinum toxin is injected subcutaneously, or under the skin, of your eyelid with a small needle. This procedure is typically well-tolerated by most people; however, you may experience temporary itching or redness at the injection site. These effects are temporary and will resolve quickly.
If you experience eyelid twitching that lasts for more than a couple of days, see your doctor. In most cases, blepharospasm is a benign condition that is easily treatable.