Why your Eye is Twitching, and What to Do About it

Sooner or later it happens to all of us: a twitching eye. It’s annoying, and it can seem to start out of the blue, but is there a reason behind it? Do you know why your eye is twitching? Perhaps more importantly, do you know what to do about it?

Eye twitching, called myokymia in medical terms, is typically harmless, and usually goes away in a few minutes. Sometimes, however, it can last for days or even longer. That’s when it might be time to call an eye doctor. Eye twitching that doesn’t go away could mean a serious neurological condition like blepharospasm or hemifacial spasm.

That kind of condition, however, is rare. Most cases of eye twitching are triggered by something far more mundane and easy to manage. In many cases, thinking about what may have caused the twitching can lead you to the solution to the problem.

  • Stress: If you think stress may be causing your eye to twitch, try to alleviate some stress. Yoga and breathing exercises, spending time with loved ones and pets or finding a way to get a little more downtime can help reduce your stress levels.
  • Fatigue: Lack of sleep can trigger eye twitching, but aiming for a consistent sleep schedule may alleviate an eye twitch caused by fatigue.
  • Eye strain: In this digital age, it’s easy to get digital eye strain from staring at screens. Overuse of computers, tablets, and smartphones is a cause of eye strain, which in turn triggers eyelid twitching. To avoid straining your eyes, use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and focus on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. You might also consider computer eyeglasses, especially if your job requires excessive screen time.
  • Caffeine: Too much caffeine can lead to twitching eyes, but cutting back on coffee, tea, and soft drinks for a week or two may be the cure.
  • Alcohol: If your eye twitching seems to occur after you’ve had an alcoholic beverage, try abstaining for a while.
  • Dry eyes: Dry eyes are not uncommon, especially in people over 50 and those who use computers, take certain medications, wear contact lenses and consume alcohol or caffeine. If your twitching eyelid is accompanied by feeling that your eyes are gritty or dry, you might want to talk to your doctor about a dry eye evaluation.
  • Nutrition problems: Certain nutritional deficiencies, like a lack of magnesium, can cause eyelid spasms and twitching. If you think this may be a concern for you, talk to your eye doctor about nutritional supplements that might help.
  • Allergies: Allergies cause itching, swelling, and watery eyes, and when you rub your allergic eyes, histamine is released into your eyelid causing eye twitching. You might be able to treat this problem with over-the-counter allergy eye drops, but antihistamines in those drops can cause dry eye, so it’s smart to talk to your doctor about your best options.

Sometimes, eye twitches can be relieved through the use of warm compresses and gentle eyelid massage. If you’ve considered all of the previously mentioned causes, adjusted your habits where necessary, and tried warm compresses, and the twitching persists, it may be time to call a doctor. There are treatments available for persistent eye twitching, including medications, Botox injections, and surgery.

One piece of good news: even though a twitching eye may be annoying and make you feel self-conscious, it’s unlikely that anyone else will notice it. If your eye twitch concerns you enough that you think you need an eye doctor, the Gerstein Eye Institute in Chicago can help. Since 1968, the Gerstein Eye Institute has been providing exceptional ophthalmologic care to patients in the Chicago area. With decades of experience in ophthalmology, our certified professional staff members work hard to provide the kind of personalized care that keeps patients coming back year after year, eventually entrusting the eye health of their children and grandchildren to us as well. To schedule an appointment, call us at 773.596.9545 or contact us through our website.

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