Why Is My Eye Twitching? How Can I Stop It?
Chances are, you have experienced an eye twitching for no apparent reason. This is called an ocular myokymia, and is quite common. Myokymias describe any cluster of involuntary muscle twitches and can happen in other areas of your body, like your elbow or knee. When the small muscles and nerves around your eye or eyelid start to spasm, it causes that annoying distraction people refer to as eye spasms, eyelid twitching, or eyelid tics. You may be relieved to know that these spasms are not visible to others!
Many people experience this phenomenon and are relieved to discover it is not a symptom of a more serious condition. There are exceptions to that rule of course, as you will find with some neurological conditions. If the twitching gradually increases and involves both eyes becoming sustained and forced, or the twitching involves an entire side of your face, you should consult a doctor. These occasions are highly unlikely, and if you are experiencing a twitch in just one eye chances are you have a completely benign condition likely due to one (or several) very common causes. Even though the condition is benign, your eye twitching is telling you something about your body you should pay attention to if you want to avoid more serious issues in the future.
There is no fast and sure answer to the definitive cause of myokymias, but chances are that your eye twitches are caused by one (or more) of the following causes:
Stress is a major cause of many medical conditions, and simple eye twitching is no exception! Stress releases hormones in the body that prepare it for fight or flight—and also cause muscle arousal, which may affect your eyelid muscles. It is important for your health that you take some deep breaths, and give yourself a moment of relaxation. Stress can affect your sleep cycle as well, which brings us to cause number two…
The recommended number of hours a sleep per night for adults is 7-8 hours. If you are stressed out from a big project, or worried over a personal issue, you may not be allowing yourself to get those precious recommended hours of sleep. Fatigue affects other muscles and areas in your body, so why would your eye muscles and nerves be any different? Give yourself a break and get the sleep your body is trying to tell you it so desperately needs.
With so much of our lives spent in front of a screen these days, dry eyes is a common problem for many people. Scientists have discovered that working for more than 7 hours a day at the computer reduces the natural lubricants in tears, resulting in dry eyes. And that’s just addressing people who work in front of a computer all day. People are spending long hours staring into the screens on their phones or tablets outside of work as well! Dry eyes are easily the biggest culprit for causing eye twitching. Give yourself a break by looking away from your screen often throughout the day, and use eye drops if the problem is severe.
Eyestrain is caused by your eyes being overworked trying to focus due to bad lighting, reading text that is too small, or failing to wear your glasses if you need them. If you work in a large office, you may not be able to avoid harsh overhead fluorescent lighting, but you can combat that by having a lamp at your desk positioned so it shines on the desk (not you) and comes from the side. Move your computer when you notice glare from windows. If you haven’t had your eyes checked in the last year, it is time to schedule an appointment! Your eyes could have changed and you may need glasses. If you currently wear glasses, your prescription might need to be updated. If you continue on, your eyes will continue to struggle to focus while you work.
Living in the Midwest, you are probably familiar with the symptoms most associated with allergies: dry, itchy, watery eyes! Irritated eyes are more susceptible to twitching. When you rub your eyes, you release histamine into the lid tissues and tears, and histamine has been linked with eye twitching. You may want to try some of the anti-allergy eye drops available, in addition to taking an antihistamine. Avoid drops with anti-redness claims, as those can damage the blood vessels in your eyes over time. Use them sparingly, as antihistamines can dry out your eyes, too!
Symptoms of nutritional imbalances can be difficult to link, but there are a few possibilities that can cause common eye twitching. Remember, your body is trying to tell you something! If you have ruled everything else out, a nutritional imbalance could be the culprit. First and foremost, make sure you are drinking enough water. Even slight dehydration can lead to dry eyes, which as mentioned above, is the most common cause of eye muscle spasms. If you have recently been sick with a flu or stomach bug, your body may be low in electrolytes, which are key to proper muscle functioning. Lastly, you may not be getting enough Vitamin B, particularly B12, which supports muscle and nerve function. These vitamins are most commonly found in animal products, so if you are vegan or vegetarian you may need to take supplements. You are also at risk if you are over 65, as absorption rates of B Vitamins lessens as you age.
Your coffee addiction will protest, but too much caffeine is definitely a trigger for eye twitches. Research has shown that caffeine triggers the release of serotonin and noradrenaline, which may be stimulating the nerves to induce eyelid spasms. Too much caffeine can also cause issues getting enough sleep, which brings us right back to where we started!
In short, take care of yourself by cutting back on the caffeine, reducing your stress, get your eyes checked regularly, and take a break from staring at your screen all day long! If you want more immediate relief from eye twitching, you could try alternating hot and cold compresses on the eye giving you problems. Start with the warm compresses first, particularly before bed. You could also try a facial steam bath to give a boost of hydration to dry, tired eyes. Simply put some steaming water in a bowl, cover your head with a towel and let the steam warm your face. If you’re suffering from allergies or dry eyes, try adding some essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender, and rose.