Doctor Verified

Eye-Twitching Goes Beyond Superstition: Here's What It Really Means

Eye-twitching is a normal reflex unless it is being caused by an underlying condition. Here’s what the doctor has to say

Tenzin Chodon
Written by: Tenzin ChodonUpdated at: May 17, 2023 14:28 IST
Eye-Twitching Goes Beyond Superstition: Here's What It Really Means

Malaria & Dengue Day 2023: Fever Causes, Symptoms and Prevention Guide - Onlymyhealth

The twitching of eyes holds many underlying meanings in several cultures. In India, eye twitching is often associated with various superstitions and beliefs. For instance, if the right eye twitches, it is considered auspicious or a sign of good luck, whereas twitching of the left eye is considered to be inauspicious or bad luck. But while there is no solid evidence to support any of the superstitious claims, we spoke with Dr Nandini Roy, Ophthalmologist, Fortis Anandapur, Kolkata, to understand the science behind it. 

Also Read: Did You Sleep With Your Contact Lenses On? Doctor Shares Possible Risks

Possible Causes Of Eye-Twitching

According to Dr Roy, eye-twitching, also known as eyelid-twitching or myokymia, is a relatively common involuntary muscle contraction that occurs in the eyelid. It typically involves the muscles of the upper eyelid, causing repetitive, rapid, and uncontrollable spasms or twitches. Some of the possible causes of eye-twitching include:

  • High levels of stress or anxiety 
  • Fatigue, lack of sleep or excessive tiredness
  • Prolonged use of digital devices, reading, or focusing on a particular task 
  • Consumption of excessive caffeine or alcohol
  • Dry eyes or insufficient lubrication of the eyes 
  • Medications, used to treat epilepsy, psychosis, or asthma
  • Eye irritation or inflammation; conditions, such as blepharitis (eyelid inflammation) or conjunctivitis (pink eye) 
  • Neurological conditions, such as hemifacial spasm or Bell's palsy; these conditions are typically accompanied by other symptoms and require medical attention

What Is Benign Essential Blepharospasm (BEB)?

BEB is a neurological disorder characterised by spasms or involuntary muscle contractions in the eyelids. According to Dr Roy, it can cause eye-twitching, leading to excessive blinking, eye irritation, and difficulty in keeping the eyes open. While the exact cause of the condition is unknown, it is believed to involve abnormal functioning of the basal ganglia in the brain. Basal ganglia are a part of the brain, located in the cerebral cortex, primarily responsible for motor control.

Measures To Take

While an eye-twitch often stops on its own, if it continues, Dr Roy suggested reducing screen time, having enough proper sleep, reducing stress factors, avoiding caffeine and using a warm compress. Despite taking all these measures, if it still doesn’t improve and increases with time, one should consult a neurologist, the doctor shared. 

Also Read: Opting For LASIK Surgery? Expert Explains The Right Age And Its Importance

Treatment Options

Some of the treatments include botulinum toxin injections, medications, and surgical interventions in severe cases. Dr Roy said, “A neurologist or ophthalmologist can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options based on individual situations.” 

“BEB typically starts gradually, initially with increased blinking or eye irritation. Over time, the spasms may progress and become more frequent, eventually leading to involuntary eyelid closure or excessive blinking. These symptoms can interfere with vision and cause functional impairment, such as difficulty reading, driving, or performing daily activities,” the doctor added. 

Living with BEB can be challenging, but support groups and counselling can provide emotional and practical support for individuals with the condition. According to the doctor, it is important to work closely with healthcare professionals to develop an individualised treatment plan and make necessary adjustments to improve quality of life.