Eye twitching, or myokymia, as it is known medically, is a condition characterized by involuntary contractions in the muscles around the eyes. It usually results in a repetitive spasm on one side of the eye, though both eyes may be affected. These spasms can be mildly uncomfortable, and though they do not usually last long, you can sometimes find you go through a phase of life where eye spasming and twitching comes and goes most days in ways that are awkward and very frustrating.
Symptoms of eye twitching
The most obvious symptom of a twitching eye are muscle spasms around the eyes. It can feel like a flutter, and it is usually on the eyelid that it is felt most notably. In some cases it may be a little bit painful, and you may experience some eyelid swelling, or you may tear up a little.
In rarer cases it will feel stinging, perhaps even burning. The feeling is as if a piece of grit has become embedded under the eyeline or in the eyelid and it makes you want to tug and scratch your eye to rid the eye of what it is you’re feeling.
These actions then make the eye even more irritated and a vicious circle can develop of more and more twitching and irritation in the eye. Though these symptoms can appear and disappear quite quickly, in some cases they last for days or weeks on end. If this is so, good advice is to have your eyes checked out by an ophthalmologist.
Causes of eye twitching
Stress and fatigue
When we’re tired, under pressure, or run down, our bodies are under stress. We don’t always feel it as stress, but it is there chemically. We are, in effect, in fight or flight mode. This triggers the release of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline and these hormones can cause the muscles around our eyes to contract involuntarily, which then leads to eye twitches. Reducing eye twitching is therefore often connected to lowering your tiredness and stress levels.
One way is to make sure that your sleep patterns are regular and that you get enough rest. In addition, set aside time for relaxation and quality time with friends, family or doing things you really like. Mindfulness activities, such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can also help to reduce the physical and mental strain that often leads to stress and fatigue, so build these into your day on multiple occasions. Deep breathing is very simple and can make a huge difference if you practice it just three or four times a day for a minute or so at a time.
A common cause of eye twitching is too much caffeine. It is a natural stimulant and when the body has too much of it there can be physical symptoms, usually involving the nerves. Eye twitching is one of the most prevalent effects of excess caffeine.
Caffeine being a stimulant, it can increase your body’s stress levels. When this happens, it can cause the muscles around your eyes to become tired and overactive, resulting in eye twitching. In addition, because caffeine keeps you awake, it lessens the quality and amount of sleep you get, which also affects the eyes.
So if you’re looking for a simple way to lessen your eye twitching, reducing your caffeine intake could be beneficial. Do not just assume this means coffee. Remember that many energy drinks also contain very high caffeine levels.
Dry eyes also often arise when the eyes are too tired. This tiredness can then lead to the twitching. Dry eyes arise when there’s an issue with the amount of tears that are produced in your eyes and when the eyes are insufficiently lubricated. This can then cause irritation and inflammation, which can lead to twitching.
The best way to keep your eyes lubricated and to address the immediate issue of dry eyes is by using eye drops. You should also try to reduce your screen time, especially if you work on a computer all day, as looking at screens for extended periods of time can lead to dry eyes.
Finally, try to blink more often, as this will help to keep your eyes moist. It is surprising how effective it can be.
Lack of sleep
From stress to lifestyle choices, many factors impact the quality and amount of sleep we get. Often, we underestimate its importance. A lack of sleep can be a major culprit in causing eye twitching, so If you’re not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night, it is worth adapting your routines to make sure you are resting more. Try to get into a regular sleep schedule and stick to it. Creating a relaxing bedtime ritual can also help, such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or writing in a journal. Better sleep will almost certainly reduce your eye twitching, while also improving your overall health.
This is a well known cause of eye twitching, as the twitching is a sign of the eye muscles being stressed. Eye strain can be caused by a combination of factors, such as poor lighting, an inadequate seating position at your desk, an undiagnosed need for glasses or contacts, and even genetics.
To reduce the risk of eye strain, it is vital to take regular breaks when using computers or phones. These are major modern lifestyle hazards for the eyes. Adjust your lighting, your posture, your screen angle, your screen brightness, and your screen distance to better suit your eyes. This can often make a big difference, but ultimately you do need to cut back on screens if you are a heavy user.
Natural Home Remedies for Eye Twitching
Get adequate sleep
Sleep is vital, as we saw earlier. For adults, adequate sleep means around seven to nine hours a night. This is especially important if you have a demanding job or other commitments that take up a lot of your time. You should also try to avoid sleeping in on weekends, as this can disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm. If you find yourself struggling to get enough sleep during the week, you may want to try some sleep aids like melatonin and lavender oil. In addition, it is vital to limit your caffeine intake after 2 pm.
Reduce caffeine intake
Caffeine’s stimulant properties can cause our muscles to become overly active, leading to the eyes spasming and twitching. For some people, only a complete avoidance of caffeine will work, but for some just cutting it back by half will be enough. Try experimenting with your caffeine intake to explore the effects on your eyes.
If you’re worried about energy levels, try a smoothie or a herbal tea with some refreshing flavors. These will give you the zip caffeine normally provides.
Try relaxation therapies
Given that eye twitching is a symptom of stress, it makes sense to look to the source and address the stress in your body or mind. Relaxation therapies are well known for their ability to reduce stress and tension in the body, and for allowing the body to reframe its sense of what matters. This can have a very direct and prompt effect on reducing the frequency of your eye twitching, so it is worth deploying deep breathing techniques into your daily life. Stretching out the whole body can also have a positive impact on reducing twitching in the eyes.
Use warm compresses on the eyelids
Warm compresses work for a lot of muscular stresses. They work by helping to improve circulation around the eyes and helping to relax the muscles in the eyelids. They also reduce tension-related twitching and spasms. Simply soak a cloth in warm water or use a commercially available eye compress. Be very careful not to put undue pressure on the eye. Simply let the compress lie across the eye, and make sure it is not too hot. You should only need to keep it on for a few minutes at a time, but if you do this a few times a day you will notice a difference.
Drink plenty of fluids
Dehydration can cause muscles in the face to twitch, including in the eye area. It is always wise to be well hydrated, and dehydration can sneak up on you, so stay aware of when you last had a drink of water. By staying adequately hydrated with water, juices, and herbal teas, sufferers of eye twitching can often find the tension in their eye muscle dissipates quickly.
Practice good eye hygiene
Good eye hygiene matters. Make sure you wear protective glasses when outside in bright sunlight, or when using any hazardous materials. Also, it is very important to take breaks from the computer and other digital devices throughout the day. They are harmful to the eyes and unquestionably tire them. For those who wear contact lenses, always use fresh solution and never reuse old solution. If your eyes are tired, don’t rub them and think that will make them better. Instead, close them for a few minutes and let them rest.
Medical Treatments for Eye Twitching
Prescription eye drops
Drops prescribed by a doctor can be very effective in treating the underlying condition associated with eye twitching. They work by relieving inflammation and irritation around the eye, which can help reduce spasms. Before you start using prescription eye drops, however, be sure to discuss any potential risks or side effects with your doctor.
This may sound extreme, but it is becoming an increasingly popular way to treat eye twitching among those who suffer from it repeatedly. The idea behind it is that by injecting a neurotoxic protein into the affected area, the nerve cells become paralyzed and can no longer send signals to the muscle around your eye, thus preventing the twitching.
However, be aware that there are side-effects. You may experience pain and suffer from bruising around the eye. It is also necessary to say that, as with some other neurotoxic protein uses, the effects are not permanent. You may need to repeat the process after a period of time and then carry on being treated regularly.
Oral medications are usually safe and effective ways of relieving eye twitching. There are many that are commercially available OTC. They can help reduce the frequency of spasms, as well as ease any accompanying pain. On occasions, however, they may cause headaches and drowsiness, so take advice to see if they suit your lifestyle.
When to See a Doctor
Though it can be annoying, remember that this is a common affliction that can usually be managed without any serious medical intervention. That said, if the twitching continues for more than a few days and the treatments and approaches we have suggested here are not working, it’s wise to take some advice to ensure there isn’t an underlying medical condition contributing to the issue.
Remember, though, that if your eye twitching is stress related it may take a little longer before you feel the effects of approaches to relaxing your body and restoring good sleep patterns, for example.
Pain or swelling
Pain or swelling around the eyes is usually a sign of something more serious and you should talk to a medical professional. It may be due to allergies, an eye infection, a sinus issue, or a particular pressure in the skull that is due to an injury or something undiagnosed.
It may also, however, be due to fatigue or stress, so try to work out how stressed your lifestyle is or how effective your sleep patterns are. It’s important to note that, no matter the cause, addressing any eye problems early can prevent future eye health issues, as well as stopping your eye twitching in the short term.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to figure out the direct cause of twitching. In some cases, it could be due to eye strain or fatigue, while in other cases it could be a sign of a more serious underlying problem. Whatever the case, it’s important to take it seriously and seek medical advice. Even if your blurred vision isn’t a sign of a serious health issue, it can still be disruptive and uncomfortable. You also need to ensure that you do not drive if you have blurred vision, which is obviously a limit on your lifestyle, so sorting out eye twitching that has led to blurred vision is essential.
Redness or discharge
Redness, discharge, or swollen lids around your eyes can be indications of a more serious underlying eye problem and should be addressed quickly. Seek medical attention right away to determine the cause and assess appropriate treatment options. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medicines, eye drops, or other therapies to reduce inflammation and treat any underlying infection. Additionally, lifestyle modifications such as avoiding extreme temperatures, not rubbing your eyes, and getting plenty of rest may also help to reduce any discomfort.
In summary, look after your eyes carefully. They are an exceptionally complex part of the body and they need your care. If you have twitching in your eyes, take steps to address the condition.