Why does my eyelid twitch when I ingest lots of alcohol?
May 17, 2006 7:31 PM   Subscribe

When I get plastered enough, my eye twitches. Why?

It's very unusual that I imbibe a significant amount of alcoholic beverages of any kind. However, when I do, I get a huge amount of twitching in my eyelids. Does imbibing alcohol cause depletion of B-12, or is there another cause of the twitch in my eyelids (that is triggered by alcoholic beverage consumption)?
posted by arimathea to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
This happens to me too when I've been drinking too much.
posted by evariste at 7:49 PM on May 17, 2006

I am also of the twitch. It is usually my eyebrow rather than my eye and it is usually also associated with stress which adds weight to your B-12 suggestion. I will be very interested to read the other posts.
posted by ilikecookies at 7:58 PM on May 17, 2006

Mmm... alcohol increases the permeability of your nuerons, so I imagine with significant amounts of alcohol there's all sorts of ionic imbalances that might cause your eyes to twitch. But then, I think that mightn't be it because I think that the membrane potential would be smaller due to less seperation between the intra and extra cellular fluid. That is, because of the messed up ionic balance, the nuerons have less ability to fire.

So let me think here. It probably has to do with supression of some part of the brain that controls blinking. Looks like from the abstract in this paper that it's the "trigeminal reflex blink circuit." Something about the alcohol must be affecting this circuit, causing the blinking. Maybe. Don't quote me on that, I've only studied undergrad physiology.
posted by Mister Cheese at 7:59 PM on May 17, 2006

Eyelid myokymia is known to be triggered by alcohol. It's not perfectly clear what the causal pathway is, but it probably relates to alcohol's membrane effect on the peripheral nerves that supply the muscle that closes the eyelid (zygomatic branch of facial nerve innervating orbicularis oculi, if you care.) Alcohol likely increases membrane permeability, causing aberrant action potentials to arise in the axon.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:40 PM on May 17, 2006 [2 favorites]

In general, eye twitches are caused by stress and/or a lack of sleep. Maybe the alcohol is just triggering it, and those are the root causes.
posted by zardoz at 1:37 AM on May 18, 2006

Alcohol suppresses higher brain functions. My guess is that one of your higher brain functions is devoted to keeping your eyelids from twitching.
posted by kindall at 8:36 AM on May 18, 2006

I get this from too much caffeine. However, I tend to drink more caffeine when I am stressed and it keeps me from sleeping well. So maybe its the same phenomenon.
posted by bug138 at 9:58 AM on May 18, 2006

Either what ikkyu2 said or else Government microwave mind control.
posted by docpops at 3:18 PM on May 19, 2006

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