Eyelid twitching can be caused by stress, too much cafffeine intake, anxiety and fatigue. However, according to some beliefs, the left eye jumping can have different superstitious meanings.
Eye jumping can also be described as twitching, shaking or tics are very common. It is the involuntary, repetitive shaking or spasm of the eye muscles.
The right or left eye twitching is a very common occurrence that is considered harmless but it can be very annoying if it is persistent.
Spasms around the eye are very common. It is the involuntary contraction of muscle fibers which happens because of a spontaneous action potential. Most people will develop eye spasms at some point in their lives.
The symptom can be localized on the eyelid, eyebrows or the entire eye depending on which muscle or nerve is affected.
It can be on just one eye or both. In this article, note that symptoms, diagnosis, management and interpretation is almost similar when discussing both eyebrow twitching and eyelid spasms.
Why is my eye twitching?
Eyelid spasms are usually painless, harmless and usually go away on their own. While this is just a temporary thing, it gets quite annoying when the spasms occur more frequently and persistently.
- Fatigue/lack of sleep
- Eye strain/computer vision syndrome
- Dry eyes
- Nutritional imbalances
Sometimes eye jumping can be a sign of treatable eye conditions such as dry eyes, light sensitivity, pink eye and blepharitis.
Very rarely, left eye twitches can be a symptom of a more serious brain or nerve disorder.
It can be a sign of brain or nerve disorders such as Bell’s palsy, dystonia and Parkinson’s disease.
Some medications can also produce side effects that affect your eyes. The most common drugs that cause eye jumping are those used in the treatment of epilepsy and psychosis.
More serious forms of twitching are caused by neurological conditions such as blepharospasm or hemifacial spasm.
Chronic eye jumping is relatively uncommon. It can cause persistent winking and squinting of the eyes to a point where one has difficulty in keeping their eye open. This can cause vision impairment.
Sometimes you can have a persistent nerve jumping under the eye for several days or weeks. While it may be nothing serious, you should have your eyes checked especially if the twitching came after trauma to the head (head injury) or it is in any way impairing your vision.
Generally and most commonly, the cause cannot be identified and in almost all cases, it is painless and harmless.
Left eye jumping myth and superstitions
In most cultures around the world, there are different myths and superstitions that try to explain why eyes twitch.
Some left eye jumping superstitions say it is a good omen while others tell of bad things and misfortunes to come. Superstitions and meanings are very ancient practices that have been carried on to some present generations.
There are those who believe that left eye jumping is good for women while others believe in the exact opposite.
- For example, superstition in India and China is deeply connected with astrology and is presently practiced.
- Chinese superstitions believe that spasms of the left eye indicate good luck for men and bad luck for women.
- These interpretations are however made depending on the time of the day the spasms happen.
The Indian interpretation of left eye spesms is the complete opposite of the Chinese version.
Indians, specifically of the epic Ramayana believe that when your left eye jumps, it brings bad omen for the men and good news for women, such as the birth of a child. Interpretation may vary depending on part of the left eye that is shaking.
In certain parts of Africa, it is believed to be a sign of sorrow, shedding of tears or an unexpected meeting with someone.
What does it mean when your eye jumps?
Other than the scientifically proven explanations given above, twitching is most of the times interpreted based on cultures, myths and superstitions.
There are many reasons as to why your eye may have discomfort. Ranging from the harmless muscle fatigue to serious conditions of the nervous system.
Unusual eye movements commonly occur due to stress, fatigue, lack of sleep, and overuse of stimulants -caffeine and decongestants.
Allergies, dry eye, plepharitis or any other condition that may cause local eye irritation can be a trigger to eyebrow spasms.
Eye fatigue and lack of sleep strains the eye muscles and causes upper eyelid jumping
Eye fatigue and reduced energy in the cases of lack of sleep, eye strain and hunger, eye jumping is usually self-limiting and should be no cause for alarm. Reversing the occurrences and compensating for the cause is enough to stop eyebrow spasms.
Drinking alcohol, coffee and other stimulating drinks may cause your muscles and nerves to be overstimulated hence involuntary jumping. Caffeine and alcohol intake goes hand in hand with fatigue and stress. Therefore, management would go in the same line.
Lack of Water and Essential Mineral causes Eye Jumping
Water is very essential in muscle and nervous system functions. Water supplies electrolytes such as magnesium, sodium, calcium, potassium among others. According to livestrong.com, Electrolytes are responsible for, among other things, controlling muscle action, including the muscles of the eye.
A supply of too much or too little may cause muscle spasms. Deficiency may occur in conditions such as diarrhea, vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. Heavy sweating, exercise and frequent urination can be other possible causes. Left eye jumping that is as a result of lack of these minerals can be easily reversed by intake of foods or supplements with these elements.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D has many important functions in the body among them absorption of calcium. If you have low levels of vitamin D, absorption of calcium may be hindered leading to weak eye muscles and twitches because of the role it plays in muscle contraction. It can be obtained by exposure to sunlight, intake of foods and supplements with vitamin D.
Vitamin B-12 during pregnancy
A study done by Neurology India published by the Neurology Society of India reveals that a deficiency in vitamin B-12 can cause dystonia and other neurological problems. It is common for infants with low B-vitamins and pregnant women to present with chorea and spasms but cases of adults with the same have not been reported. This leaves a possibility that eye jumping may be as a result of vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Allergies can also trigger eye spasms People with allergies almost always experience itching. This can also happen when one has influenza or any type of flu. Eye itching stimulates release of histamine into the eye tissue. This commonly affects the eye muscles.
Eye jumping can affect one or both of the eyes. Left eye jumping is commoner of the two. It is sometimes associated with a weaker muscle line on the left side of those who are right handed. This is however not yet scientifically proven and might be considered a myth. Mild left eye jumping will usually go away on its own.
It is recommended that you cut down on stress and get lots of rest. Reduce your caffeine intake and drink plenty of water. Holistic methods such as breathing techniques, yoga, acupuncture, hypnosis and meditation can also help to reduce stress and eye twitching.
Severe left eye jumping may require different types of eye treatments such as those discussed below. Just be sure to consult a doctor if the eye spasms become an issue of concern. Complications of upper eyelid jumping are quite rare but may include:
- Drooping eyelids
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Injury to the cornea
- Permanent eye damage
Is there a way to prevent eye jumping? If you experience increasingly frequent episodes of eye spasms, you can try to keep a journal and note when they occur. Pay attention to your caffeine intake, tobacco and alcohol use as well as your level of stress and how much sleep you have in the period leading up to and during eye jumping. If you notice that your eye twitches more when you don’t get enough sleep, make an effort to rest more.
My left eye keeps jumping all day, for days, weeks
Left eye twitching is considered mild and benign. It should resolve fast without causing any discomfort. One the spasms begin, they should disappear on their own within no time. If your left eye keeps jumping constantly for all day or for a week, try to rest more and get enough sleep, reduce your caffeine intake and take lots of water for rehydration.
However, if your eye keeps jumping for days that it causes you discomfort, you should seek medical attention promptly. It may be a sign of a serious problem or an underlying medical condition.
Radiological tests such as CT or MRI scans will be done to rule out nerve compression or damage. Other lab tests can be done to eliminate systemic conditions such as diabetes and magnesium deficiency. The doctor may consider muscle relaxers such as valium to calm the spasms or a tranquilizer such as tegrettol to help calm the nerves and relieve eye jumping.
Botox is another very effective method of numbing muscles if your left eye keeps jumping. It has been used successfully in treating general muscle spasms of the face and eyes. This works perfectly for those who are aging with weak facial muscles.
In numbs the muscles around the eyes and helps to stops the spasms. Even so, it is important to note that eye jumping may also be a side effect of botox injections. So, before you run for a jab, you should consult pre-emptively with your doctor on other possible options.
When to see a doctor
- If it causes discomfort or distraction from work
- Spasms that are associated with any kind of pain along a nerve line
- If the spasms spread to other parts of the face
- If on medication for mental disorders
- It the eye keeps jumping for more than 3 days
Sources and References
- Food Pyramid: Left eye twitching
- All about vision: Eye Twitching and Eyelid Twitching
- Mayo Clinic: Eye Twitching
- Eye health web: Eye Twitching