Ross' Blog

Why Does my Eye Twitch?

A twitchy eye is generally considered a non-serious eye condition and is commonly experienced by patients. Medically, an eyelid twitch is referred to as  ‘Myokymia’.  The twitching sensation is the result of the sudden spasmodic contraction of the obicularious muscle, which is normally used for closing your eyelids. The twitching sensation most often effects the lower eyelid and occasionally can even place pressure on the eyeball itself causing the eye to twitch. Some patients are convinced that their eye is actually twitching, however, this is a vary rare phenomenon.  Symptoms from myokymia can last up to a month and can disappear as quickly as they began.

The most common causes of myokymia include: 

  • Stress
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Fatigue
  • Eye infection
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Excessive exercise
  • Reduced potassium levels 

Although most eyelid twitches are not medically significant, it is always best to visit your optometrist or eye doctor to rule out any other more serious eye related diseases. Treatment for myokymia usually involves rest and relaxation, drinking plenty of water, and eating foods high in potassium. 

Fun Fact: Did you know that seeing your optometrist for a condition like myokymia is now covered under Alberta Health Care.

Vision & Medicine: Plaquenil

Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) was originally a medication used to help prevent and treat malaria, but was later discovered to have positive effects on autoimmune conditions as well. Today, this medication is more routinely used in Canada to help control the pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

In general, Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is well tolerated by most patients. Like all medications however, there can be unwanted side effects. One such side effect includes retinal toxicity, which can lead to visual changes and potential vision loss. Although this is rare, vision changes can occur more quickly in patients who are taking a higher daily dose or in patients with reduced kidney or liver function. Vision changes can also occur more quickly in patients who already suffer from retinal disease or maculopathy. However, if visual changes are noticed early, they will often improve after stopping or reducing the dosage of the drug.

If your family doctor or rheumatologist prescribes Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) for you, then it is recommended that you have a detailed dilated retinal examination by your optometrists along with a centralized visual field test. This initial examination will provide a baseline from which future eye examinations can be compared to. Depending on your daily dosage, your optometrist will help set guidelines for how often your eyes need to be tested.

So What’s Covered by Alberta Health Care?

Alberta Health Care covers the cost of a dilated retinal examination and visual field test by your optometrist for all patients taking Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil). 

What is Pink Eye?

To start, there are a few different types of pink eye:

Pink eye related to bacterial eye infections can cause a lot of swelling and produce sticky green discharge, resulting in eyes that are often ‘glued’ shut in the morning. Bacterial eye infections are more commonly seen in contact lens wearers and can result from our skins own bacteria.

Pink eye related to viral infections is by far the most common cause, and is caused by the same virus that results in the common cold. Viral pink eye will usually result in a watery eye with little to no discharge, but may still be crusted shut in the morning. Viral pink eye is the most contagious of all pink eyes, which is why it hangs out in preschools, daycares and work environments.

Pink eye related to allergies is more common after coming in contact with allergens and is often associated with other physical symptoms like stuffy nose, itchy skin or swollen eyes. People often complain of itching and may want to rub their eyes.

Pink eye can also be related to some more serious eye conditions like scleritis, uveitis, or iritis. These eye conditions require more urgent care, and will generally not resolve on their own if left untreated.

Regardless of the cause of your pink eye, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis by your optometrist to ensure that the treatment matches the condition. Please don’t touch anyone until you see us, and we’ll let you know if you are contagious.

Please Note: Alberta Health Care now covers the cost of emergency eye care visits to your optometrists office – there is no charge to you as a patient.