Why Is My Eye Twitching?

Published November 2, 2020

Have you ever felt your eyelid moving or twitching involuntarily? 

What is an eye twitch?

An eye twitch, clinically termed myokymia, occurs when the eyelid muscles spasm uncontrollably.

You may feel like everyone else can see it and it may be distracting you from your daily activities— but rest assured that most eye twitches are actually not as noticeable as you think and with some lifestyle changes, most eye twitches will disappear on their own.

An eye twitch can last from a few minutes to a few days, and sometimes even longer— depending on the cause.

What causes an eye twitch and how can I stop it?

An eye twitch can develop for a number of reasons and will typically disappear when the underlying cause is resolved.

The most common reasons include:

Stress

This is the most common cause of an eye twitch. When you feel stressed, either mentally or physically, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol acts like a stimulant, similar to caffeine, which can cause your eyelid to twitch.

To relieve an eye twitch induced by stress, try to get involved in stress-relieving activities: deep breathing exercises, yoga, spending time with friends, or taking time out of your day to just relax with a calming activity.

Fatigue

Getting a good night’s sleep is not only important for your overall health, but can also help to keep your hormones in balance and relieve stress. While you sleep, your eyes also have a chance to rest from the visual stimulation they get all day.

Doctors recommend getting around 8 hours of sleep each night. If you’re feeling extra tired these days, your eye twitch may be a sign that you need a few additional hours of sleep.

Allergies

Eye allergies can cause red, itchy, watery eyes and eyelid swelling. Rubbing your eyes can actually make your symptoms worse as the histamine can work its way further into your eyelid tissues and tear film. This can sometimes result in an eye twitch.

If you suffer from eye allergy symptoms, using an over-the-counter (OTC) eye drop can help to relieve your discomfort. However, be sure to consult with your eye doctor before trying any new eye drops, as antihistamine drops can lead to dry eyes, another cause of an eye twitch.

Dry eyes

Dry eyes are a common complaint that can make your eyes feel sore and uncomfortable, and can also lead to an eye twitch.

If you are experiencing dry eyes, an OTC lubricating eye drop may help to relieve your symptoms and eye twitch.

However, it’s always a good idea to speak with your eye doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. If left untreated, dry eyes can cause blurred vision and other uncomfortable symptoms that can affect your performance of daily activities.

Eye strain

Prolonged use of a digital device can cause digital eye strain. When your eye muscles fatigue from continuous focusing, you may experience dry eyes, blurry vision, double vision, headaches, and even an eye twitch.

If you are experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain, speak with your eye doctor about ways to improve your symptoms and prevent eye strain in the future.

In most cases, making some lifestyle changes, such as limiting your screen time, taking frequent breaks, and even wearing computer glasses with blue-blocking lenses, can make a world of a difference.

Caffeine

Consuming caffeine throughout the day may help to keep you awake and alert, but too much caffeine can have over stimulating effects on your eye muscles, and cause an irritating eye twitch.

Try to limit your caffeine intake for a few weeks to less than three cups per day, and see if your eye twitch disappears.

Alcohol

Similar to the effects of caffeine, alcohol can also lead to eye twitching. If you notice that your eye begins to twitch after drinking any type of alcohol, try to limit your alcohol consumption for a few weeks to see if your eye twitch goes away.

Nutrition deficiencies

According to some research, a deficiency in certain nutrients such as magnesium, may be another possible cause of an eye twitch.

If you think that you may be lacking in magnesium or any other nutrients, speak with your doctor about beginning a nutritional supplement.

Blepharospasm

This is a rare condition that affects only 5 in 100,000 people. Blepharospasm is caused by a neurological problem that causes uncontrollable facial and eye spasms or twitches.

Symptoms of blepharospasm typically get worse over time, and are generally obvious, long lasting, and severe. These spasms can also cause increased blink rate and intensity, and may even force the eyelids closed.

If you have been diagnosed with this condition, your eye doctor may recommend Botox injections, oral medication, or sometimes even surgery to relieve your eye twitch.

When to see your eye doctor

If your eye twitch persists for more than a few weeks, or you are experiencing symptoms of blepharospasm, contact your eye doctor as soon as possible.

In most cases, an eye twitch is not a cause for concern, but if your eye twitch persists or you experience any other vision changes, schedule an eye exam for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.