Eye twitching, eyelid tics, and spasms are pretty common. Referred to as
“Eyelid Myokymia” by medical professionals, it can be described as an involuntary action which causes rapid fluttering of the eye.
In most cases, it is said to involve the lower eyelid and will last for short periods of time. Though the sensation can feel very strong, the contractions are usually not noticeable to others.
Almost all sudden-onset eyelid twitching is benign, meaning the condition is not serious nor a sign of a medical problem.
Triggers can include:
- Eye strain/Fatigue
- Diet (caffeine & alcohol)
- Dry eyes
- Nutritional imbalances
Some remedies for the above triggers:
- Stress: While we’re all under stress at times, our bodies react to it in different ways. Although stress tends to be more of a mental or emotional issue, it can have physical manifestations; one such manifestation being eye twitching.
Yoga, breathing exercises, spending time with friends or pets and getting more downtime into your schedule are among the many ways to reduce the stress that may be causing the twitch.
- Fatigue: A lack of sleep, whether because of stress or some other reason, can trigger a twitching eyelid.
Sleep enough, destress your eyes by massaging your eyelids or placing cool compress over them.
- Eye strain: Vision-related stress can occur if, for instance, you need glasses or a change of glasses. Even minor vision problems can make your eyes work too hard, triggering eyelid twitching.
Schedule an eye exam and have your vision checked and your eyeglass prescription updated. Computer eye strain from overuse of computers, tablets, and smartphones is also a common cause of eyelid twitching. To reduce this strain follow the “20-20-20 rule” when using digital devices: Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and allow your eyes to focus on a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for 20 seconds or longer. This reduces eye muscle fatigue that may trigger eyelid twitching. If you spend a lot of time on the computer, you might want to talk to your eye doctor about special computer glasses.
- Diet: Caffeine and alcohol trigger the release of feel-good chemicals to stimulate the nervous system. As they excite the nerves, it is possible that the root cause of your eye spasms may have simply been a night of binge drinking or eating more chocolate than usual. Too much caffeine can trigger eye twitching.
To reduce twitching caused by excessive intake of caffeine, try cutting back on coffee, tea, chocolate and soft drinks & energy drinks (or switch to decaffeinated versions) for a week or two and see if your eye twitching disappears. Try abstaining from alcohol for a while and see if the condition improves since alcohol intake can cause eyelids to twitch.
- Dry eyes: Excessive evaporation of the tears or an insufficient flow of tears can lead to dry eyes and associated irritations. Many adults experience dry eyes, especially after age 50. Dry eyes are also very common among people who use computers or take certain medications (antihistamines, antidepressants, etc.), wear contact lenses or consume too much caffeine and/or alcohol. If you are tired and under stress, this too can increase your risk of dry eyes.
If you have a twitching eyelid and your eyes feel gritty or dry, see your eye doctor for a dry eye evaluation. Restoring moisture to the surface of your eye may stop the spasm and decrease the risk of twitching in the future.
- Nutritional imbalances: Some reports suggest a lack of certain nutritional imbalances as a trigger for eyelid spasms. Although these reports are not conclusive, you cannot rule this out as a possible cause of a twitching eye.
You may need to supplement your diet with a number of specific vitamins or minerals. You can become deficient in certain nutrients because of poor diet, excessive exercising without proper nutrition or the use of medication such as diuretics. This nutritional deficiency, in turn, can cause you to experience involuntary muscle contractions. Consult your doctor before taking any vitamin or mineral supplements…
- Allergies: People with eye allergies can have itching, swelling, and watery eyes. Minor irritation affecting the surface of the cornea or the inner eyelid can result in twitching. Rubbing the eyes may increase this irritation. External sources of irritation such as bright lights or air pollution can also cause eye twitching. When the eyes are rubbed, this releases histamine into the lid tissues and the tears. This is significant because some evidence indicates that histamine can cause eyelid twitching.
To offset this problem, some eye doctors have recommended antihistamine eye drops or tablets to help some eyelid twitches. But remember that antihistamines also can cause dry eyes. It’s best to work with your eye doctor to make sure you’re doing the right thing for your eyes.
Whilst most twitches are mercifully temporary and will go if you are mindful of the above issues, some can be more serious.
In rare cases, chronic eye twitching can be the sign of a serious nervous system disorder. Bell’s palsy, Parkinson’s, Tourette’s and dystonia are four serious nervous system disorders that are linked with eye twitching.
If you are experiencing chronic eye twitch or a facial twitch with no other obvious eye-related concerns, speak with a doctor or an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.