When it comes to eye health, any sign of something wrong can have you looking up symptoms to see if “Doctor Internet” knows what’s going on. Luckily, two of the most visibly concerning eye problems, twitching, and broken blood vessels, are typically not a cause for concern. Today, we’re going to look at these common eye issues and let you know what to expect and when to see an eye doctor.
Eye twitching is a common condition that causes the muscles in or around the eye to spasm or “twitch.” It can be hereditary, meaning that if you have a family history of eye twitching, you may also be prone to episodes of twitching. Eye twitching can have a number of triggers, depending on what type of twitching you experience.
The three categories of eye twitching
There are three different categories of eye twitching:
1) A mild eyelid twitch, or eyelid myokymia, is often caused by everyday triggers like stress, fatigue, or even caffeine consumption. It may also be because the cornea, the surface of the eye, or the conjunctiva, the membranes that line your eyelids, are irritated.
2) Benign essential blepharospasm usually appears around middle age or later in adulthood and typically gets worse over time. It usually starts with uncontrollable blinking or eye irritation. As it progresses you may become more sensitive to light, develop blurry vision, or begin having facial spasms. These spasms can become so severe that the eyelids spasm and remain closed for hours during an episode.
However, this is an uncommon condition, with only 2,000 patients diagnosed in the United States every year. Women are twice as likely to develop the condition as men, and although it usually isn’t serious, more advanced cases may interfere with your daily life.
3) Hemifacial spasms are extremely rare. This type of spasm affects the muscles around your mouth and eyelid. Unlike the other two types, it usually only happens on one side of your face. This is normally caused by an artery pressing on a facial nerve.
If you have a twitch on only one side of your face or a prolonged spasm, it might be a good idea to schedule an evaluation with an eye doctor to address any concerns. You can find a VSP provider in your area with our Find a Doctor search tool.
There are several reasons you might develop a mild eye twitch. Everyday factors that can trigger eye twitching can include:
- Light sensitivity
- Nutrient deficiency
- Certain types of medications used for mental health and epilepsy
Additionally, in rare cases, your eye twitch could be a symptom of a nervous system or brain disorder. Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, and dystonia may cause eye twitches.
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Most minor eye twitches resolve on their own. For those with minor twitching, stress reduction can alleviate symptoms. Getting plenty of rest and avoiding caffeine and alcohol consumption can also help with eye twitching. Artificial tears and other eye drops can prevent dry or irritated eye spasms. Improving your diet can also help prevent future twitching as nutritional deficiencies, such as low magnesium, can contribute to spasms.
However, if the twitching continues or gets worse, you should schedule an appointment with an eye doctor. We recommend talking to a doctor about your eye twitch if:
- It lasts for over a week
- Your eye closes completely
- Your spasm extends to other facial muscles
- You have eye redness, swelling, or discharge
- Your upper eyelid droops
If your doctor suspects a deeper problem, they’ll check for other common symptoms or refer you to a specialist for additional tests.
Benign essential blepharospasm has no cure. To ease symptoms, your doctor might suggest Botox or other botulinum toxin injections to help ease spasms. This treatment usually lasts a few months and wears off slowly. It is not a one-time fix, but a long-term method aimed at reducing symptoms. Botox can also be used to help those with hemifacial spasms.
Do you need a plan that covers various treatment options? We can help you find a plan that covers everything you need with our VSP Vision Plan Wizard.
Broken blood vessels, or subconjunctival hemorrhages, can happen for a variety of reasons, most of which are perfectly benign. It occurs when a tiny blood vessel breaks beneath the clear surface of your eye. The conjunctiva cannot absorb blood very quickly, trapping the blood and turning a section of your eye red, which may make it look worse than it is. In many ways, it is a lot like having a bruise on your eye.
Just like bruises, one of the most common causes of broken blood vessels is an injury, although it can also happen after prolonged violent coughing, sneezing, vomiting, or overexertion from lifting heavy weights. Even aggressive eye rubbing can cause a blood vessel to break. For those taking blood-thinning medications or who have hypertension, broken blood vessels can be more common. Frequently though, there is no apparent cause.
Most people do not experience any symptoms of broken blood vessels in the eye. They do not cause pain, discomfort, vision changes, or discharge. Most people only find out that they have a broken blood vessel in their eye when they look in the mirror and see the signature red discoloration.
Broken blood vessels in your eye are nothing to worry about. Just as with skin bruises, they disappear naturally within a week or so. They require no treatment, although some find eye drops helpful if they have dry eyes during healing.
However, you should contact a doctor about broken blood vessels in your eyes if they take longer than two weeks to heal or if it becomes recurrent. This could be a sign of a complication or a more serious eye injury.
Eye twitching and broken blood vessels in your eyes are common conditions. Most of the time, they are harmless and resolve on their own after some rest and a little patience. However, issues that do not easily resolve should be examined by your eye doctor, as this could be a sign of a more serious medical concern.
No matter your eye concern, VSP Individual Vision Plans has a vision insurance plan that will meet your needs. With options for every budget, it’s easy to find your best vision coverage. Learn more about the benefits of VSP vision care today.
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Some plans can only be accessed through membership in the Healthy Vision Association (HVA), which helps its members see well and stay healthy.
For $1.50/mo, your membership will give you access to exclusive discount programs* on everyday goods and services including:
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