Many people have an occasional eye twitch, especially when they are tired or have had a lot of caffeine. Frequent eye twitching is fairly uncommon. Anyone can have eye twitching, but it is more common in middle-aged and elderly women
What is Eye Twitching?
Eye twitching is the involuntary, spontaneous contraction among the fine muscles of the eyelid. Typically, these muscle spasms are localized to the lower eyelid, but can occur in either eye or both. In most cases, minor eye twitching resolves as spontaneously as it begun and isn’t associated with any disease. However, minor eye twitching can be hard to treat since there’s only one way to end it: figure out the cause and deal with it appropriately.
What causes eye twitching?
Frequent eye twitching is often from a condition called benign essential blepharospasm. Researchers aren’t sure exactly what causes it, but it can cause problems with the muscle groups around your eye. They also think problems with the basal ganglia (a part of the brain) might play a role. Having certain genes may contribute to eye twitching in some people too.
Rarely, another problem with the brain or nervous system might cause eye twitching. These problems include:
- Parkinson disease
- Brain damage from inflammation or a stroke. This is especially true for the thalamus, basal ganglia, or brain stem.
- Reaction to certain mental health medicines
- Meige syndrome. This is a nervous system movement disorder.
- Multiple sclerosis
- Bell palsy
These health conditions usually have other symptoms as well.
How can I stop eye twitching?
To stop your eyelid twitching, figure out what the possible causes might be.
Sometimes, making minor changes to your diet and lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of eye twitching or help make an eyelid twitch disappear.
Let's review the causes of eye twitching and the possible solutions:
Stress is probably the most common cause of eye twitching. Yoga, breathing exercises, spending time with friends or pets and getting more down time into your schedule are ways to reduce stress that may be causing your eyelid twitch.
Lack of sleep, whether because of stress or some other reason, can trigger eye twitching. Catching up on your sleep and having a consistent sleep schedule can help.
Eye strain — particularly digital eye strain from overuse of computers, tablets and smartphones — also is a common cause of eyelid twitching.
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 fatigue that may trigger eye twitching.
Too much caffeine can trigger eye twitching. Try cutting back on coffee, tea and soft drinks (or switch to decaffeinated versions) for a week or two and see if your eye twitching disappears.
If you experience eye twitching after drinking beer, wine or liquor, take a break from the booze, since alcohol consumption may cause eyelids to twitch.
Many adults experience dry eyes, especially after age 50. Dry eyes also are very common among people who use computers, take certain medications (especially antihistamines and some antidepressants), wear contact lenses and consume caffeine and/or alcohol.
If you have a twitching eyelid and your eyes feel gritty or dry, consult your eye doctor for an evaluation. Restoring moisture to the surface of your eye may stop the twitching and decrease the risk of twitching in the future.
Some reports suggest a lack of certain nutritional elements, such as magnesium, can trigger eyelid spasms. Although these reports are not conclusive, this may be another possible cause of eye twitching.
If you are concerned that your diet may not be supplying all the nutrients you need for healthy vision, discuss this with your eye doctor before purchasing over-the-counter nutritional supplements.
People with eye allergies can have itching, swelling and watery eyes. Rubbing your eyes because of allergy symptoms releases histamine into your eyelid tissues and tear film, which may cause eye twitching.
Sometimes, over-the-counter eye drops formulated to reduce allergy symptoms can be helpful, but antihistamines in these drops can cause dry eyes.
It's best to consult your eye doctor to make sure you're doing the right thing for your eyes if you experience allergy symptoms and eye twitching.
When to see an eye doctor
See an eye doctor immediately if you experience persistent eye twitching, sudden changes in appearance or movement of half your face (including your eyelids), or if both eyelids clamp down so tight it's impossible to open your eyes. These can be signs of a serious condition.
If your eye twitching doesn't go away, it could signal a serious neurological condition affecting the eyelid — such as blepharospasm or hemifacial spasm.
These relatively rare conditions are more obvious and severe than common eye twitching and should be evaluated immediately by an eye doctor.