To be blunt, it feels really weird when your muscles do something you didn’t tell them to. This is true regardless of whether the movement was a jerking leg or your left eye twitching.
It is understandable, then, to be concerned or curious about the causes of such a symptom. There are a few different potential causes for a left eye twitching, and fortunately, most are harmless or easily resolved with time or a few simple steps.
What’s So Special about the Left Eye?
Strictly speaking, there is nothing inherently special about the left eye twitching compared to the right, though there are various superstitions about this twitching being an omen. Chinese superstition holds a left eye twitch as a herald of good luck or good news, while Indian culture considers it to be a bad omen. Traditional Hawaiian belief holds that the left eye twitching is caused by the arrival of a stranger You get the drift. You can find similar beliefs about the left palm itching as well.
Since our purposes are strictly confined to medicine and science, however, it must be noted that anything said here regarding causes or remedies for a left eye twitching can apply equally to the right.
Quick Clarification on Twitching
For the purposes of this article, eye twitch refers to an uncontrolled tic or spasm of the eyelid or a contraction of the connected muscle. Although such twitching can feel powerful and obvious, the actual movement can be surprisingly subtle and easy to miss by a casual observer.
This distinction is important since there is a condition called blepharospasm where the eyelid develops uncontrolled, prolonged blinking that can sometimes result in functional blindness. Although it also involves an involuntary motion of the eyelids, blepharospasm is a separate and unrelated matter from the kind of eye twitching this article covers.
Causes of a Left Eye Twitch
These two causes are interrelated to one another. A lack of sleep or other form of physical exhaustion can agitate the muscles that govern eyelid movement. Essentially, the eye twitch is a result of the muscle growing weak from strain. Eye twitching is more likely to develop in cases of prolonged or chronic sleep problems, but any sleep-deprivation scenario is capable of causing it.
An eye twitch is a stereotypical response to stress or emotion in cartoons, and the connection exists for a reason. Everybody responds differently to emotional stressors and the left eye twitching is most definitely one of the possible symptoms. Stress is more likely to result in an eye twitch if you are fatigued as well.
Recurrent or prolonged straining of the eyes, such as to read small print or see at a distance, can result in a twitch. It isn’t always obvious when you’re straining your eyes, especially in children who may not realize their way of seeing the world is unusual. Strain can also be connected to digital screens in some cases, but this isn’t going to be true for everyone. Your eyes like to stay active, and staring at a fixed point (like a screen) for extended periods can lead to strain and cause a left eye twitch through lack of motion.
As with any part of the body, your eye does not take kindly to sources of irritation or physical agitation. Allergies, small particles (sand, etc.), smoke, excessive rubbing, a corneal abrasion, or entropion (where the eyelid turns inward and your lashes brush against the eye) can all result in an eye twitch. In addition to the twitching, you may also experience unusually dry, itchy eyes, or redness, inflammation, and swelling.
Whether due to sty, pink eye, blepharitis from a clogged oil gland, or something else, infections of the eye can result in a twitch, as well as other symptoms. Associated symptoms include red, watery eyes, a painful lump along the edge of the eyelid (for sty), itchy or flaking skin around the eye, crusty eyelashes, loss of eyelashes, and sensitivity to light.
Caffeine or Drugs
Caffeine is a stimulant, and as a result, it can cause your muscles to get overexcited. This can result in eyelid twitching among other possible complications. Caffeine is most likely to cause an eye twitch if you either take a large amount, your body is not used to caffeine, or you are a chronic user. Other, more illicit drugs that work as a stimulant can also lead to an eye twitch.
Eye twitching is a known and listed side effect of various medications, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac. Benzodiazepines, which is used for matters like anxiety disorders, insomnia, or seizures, can cause eye twitches if you’re experiencing withdrawal.
The left eye twitching may fall under the category of hemifacial spasm. This is a rare condition where one of the facial nerves ends up getting compressed by a blood vessel and can cause twitches on one side of the face. More generally, any condition that affects the brain or nervous system and is capable of causing muscle spasms would also be able to produce an eye twitch.
This can include anything from a ganglion tumor to Bell’s palsy, so a full list would both be excessively long and unnecessarily alarming. However, if your only symptom is a twitching eyelid, then a neurological cause is highly unlikely.
Remedies for a Twitching Left Eye
As with any symptom, the remedy for a left eye twitch will depend on the underlying cause. Stress or fatigue can be primarily treated with rest and relaxation. Strain may require an eye exam to see if you need glasses. You could also try the 20-20-20 approach if the twitch is caused by a screen; every 20 minutes, look away and focus on an object at least 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds. Irritation can be resolved by flushing the eye and/or avoiding the irritant in question.
For infections, the best approach is rest, a warm compress, and antibiotics (if warranted). Caffeine, drugs, and medication-caused twitches will naturally require you to reduce your intake of the triggering substance. However, you should not reduce or stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting your doctor.
When to See a Doctor
- The twitches/tics/muscle spasms affect more than just your eye
- The twitching lasts longer than three days
- The twitches force your eyelid to close (blepharospasm)
- Your eye experiences swelling, redness, or starts giving off a discharge