Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a disease of the neurons that control voluntary muscle function. While uncommon, ALS is a progressive and fatal condition whose causes have not been identified. Early symptoms may be ambiguous and include involuntary twitches and tremors of muscles like the upper and lower eyelid, arm or leg. Learning about the nature of eyelid twitches and ALS allows you to recognize symptoms and seek diagnosis sooner.
Muscle twitches are a common and generally harmless occurrence. According to MedlinePlus, the most common causes of eyelid twitches are caffeine, stress and fatigue. More severe twitches are sometimes caused by corneal irritation, or irritation of the eye's surface. Other times, the cause is unknown.
The cause of ALS has not yet been identified, though a combination of genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role. No known preventive methods exist, and treatment is usually focused on alleviating symptoms and making the patient as comfortable as possible.
Upper and lower eyelid twitches are just one possible symptom of ALS. Early symptoms are usually difficult to identify and may go unnoticed, becoming progressively worse until a diagnosis is sought. According to E Med TV, muscle twitching, stiffness and weakness are all possible symptoms of ALS. Other symptoms include difficulty chewing, walking and speaking. The body parts affected by early-stage ALS depend on the muscle groups damaged first. ALS does not affect a person's ability to think or comprehend speech.
In some cases, upper and lower eyelid twitch may be accompanied by other symptoms such as eye irritation or difficulty seeing.
Fortunately, ALS is a relatively rare condition. AmyotrophicLateralSclerosis.org states that roughly one in 100,000 people has the disease. It appears to be more common in Caucasian populations, though this may be due to differences in testing and other factors. It is not currently known what causes ALS or how to prevent it.
While upper and lower eyelid twitch can signal ALS, these symptoms are more likely to be caused by other factors. MedlinePlus suggests reducing caffeine consumption and increasing the amount of sleep you get each night to help reduce eyelid twitches. In some cases, lubricating your eyes with eye drops may be helpful. For severe eyelid twitches that last longer than a week, see a doctor to prevent complications. Eyelid twitches that are accompanied by changes in muscle function elsewhere in the body may be signs of a more serious condition like ALS.