Eye Twitching

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Growing up in Jamaica I was often exposed to many superstitions, one of which is that when your eye twitches, someone is talking ill of you. This may sound far-fetched but that's the way superstitions are, they just don't make sense. To find the truth behind this obvious false belief, I wanted to know why my eye twitches and if there are any medical problems associated with it.

Before these questions are answered, we first need to know what eye twitching is. It is defined as "a repetitive, uncontrollable blinking or spasm of the eyelid, usually the upper lid." Those who have had their eye twitch will realize it's only temporary as it would last up to two minutes. So now that we know what it is, it's time to find out what causes our eyes to twitch. Caffeine, stress and fatigue are the major causes of minor eye twitching which is caused "by irritation of the surface of the eye (cornea) or the membranes lining the eyelids (conjunctiva)." It could also serve as an indicator for more serious but uncommon conditions which could lead to vision impairment. Dry eyes, pinkeye, light sensitivity and blepharitis or "inflammation of the eyelids" can result in the twitching of eyes. It could also show signs of brain or nerve disorders such as: Bell's palsy, Dystonia, Parkinson's disease and Tourette's syndrome. If you know anyone who suffers from these diseases you might have noticed that their eyes twitch continuously. Such cases are rare but there is still a possibility that any one of these diseases can happen to us or someone we know.

As was said in class, nothing in science is concrete; there is always a possibility that scientists may have gotten something wrong. Also, nothing is really safe in science; such was the case in the vaccination for smallpox, some people died but many were saved as well. Almost all medications have side effects. The drug that is used to treat psychosis and epilepsy causes eye twitching. The stronger the medication the stronger the side effect, this also leads to the conclusion that science has many limitations.

Moving on, there are three common types of eye twitches: benign essential blepharospasm, minor eyelid twitch and hemifacial spasm. These are usually the result of the following lifestyle choices: fatigue, lack of sleep, stress and the use of alcohol, tobacco or caffeine. Benign essential blepharospasm which affects 20 to 50,000 Americans is most common in middle age and elder women, can be triggered by stress, fatigue and irritants. The worsening of this condition "may lead to an increased sensitivity to light, blurry vision, and facial spasms." The level of intensity can result in your eyes being shut for several hours. On the other hand, hemifacial spasm affects only one side of the face and also causes your mouth to twitch, but keep in mind that this condition is rare. Usually it is "caused by an artery pressing on the nerve to the facial muscles."

Eye twitching can be either harmless or harmful. Just keep in mind that if you or someone else have any of the symptoms associated with the medical conditions mentioned above it would be best to see a physician.


1 Comment

I was excited to see this topic because I have eye twitches sometimes. My mom always said it was because I didn't get enough sleep or I was drinking too much coffee. However recently I found out it was because of allergies! I have seasonal allergies and my symptoms are usually watery and itchy eyes and on days when they are really bad some redness. With most of my symptoms occurring in my eyes the twitching that occurs sometimes is accredited to my allergies (my mom is still in disbelief and tells me I need to go to bed earlier and lay off the caffeine)


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