If you're currently dealing with the maddening experience of a twitching eye, then your prime directive right now is probably to figure out “How can I stop my eye twitching?” The sudden onset of this symptom can take you by surprise. You’re in the middle of working at your computer or trying to fall asleep and without warning your eye gets a weird twinge. It’s usually nothing to worry about, but it can interfere with your ability to concentrate.
Eye twitching happens to most people at some point. The causes are usually banal, ordinary things that you take for granted. Fortunately, this means your eye spasms (also called blepharospasm) usually can be treated quite simply. The best way to stop the twitch is to figure out the underlying cause, and work to fix that trigger. Here are the top causes of an eye twitch:
- Eye strain
- Eye irritation, including dry eyes
- Poor nutrition
- Sensitivity to or overconsumption of caffeine or alcohol
Eye Twitching Prevention
Prevention is at the top of the list for taking care of a twinge in your eye. It turns out that many of the preventive measures for overall good health also address this annoying eye problem. As you can see in the list of causes, many of the reasons behind a twitch are lifestyle issues. Do you recognize any of them in your daily routine? Try eliminating them with these eye health tips.
- Relax—Stress is terrible for our bodies. It weakens our immune systems and can trigger any number of conditions from a mild cold to major depression—and yes, even eye twitching. Think about whether you have been under more stress than usual, or whether you chronically feel stressed out. Then, make a plan to take time out each day for yourself. Meditate, take a walk, or even just take a nap. When you address the source of stress, you may find your eye twitch has vanished.
- Sleep—As in, get enough! Have you been rushing around to get dozens of tasks completed every day. Then, you stay up to watch your favorite show until midnight? Knock it off! Your body needs sleep, and watching TV or surfing the Web may be relaxing, but it is not a substitute for letting your mind and body recuperate. Too little sleep puts stress on your body and can contribute to your eye spasms.
- Give Your Eyes a Break—Yes, your eyes need to relax, too. Even activities that seem relaxing can be like doing 100 reps on the rowing machine to your eyes. Spending all day looking at screens on the computer, TV, smartphone, tablet, or other devices exhausts your eye muscles and leads to digital eye strain.
When you’re reading small, pixelated print, your eyes work extra hard to focus. Not only that, but most people blink far less while looking at a screen. This leads to dry eyes and puts even more strain on them. While using a device, consciously make an effort to take breaks every 20 minutes to look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Also, remind yourself to blink regularly, and occasionally squeeze your eyes closed for several seconds to rest them and re-moisturize. This is especially important if you must work at a computer screen for most of the day.
- Protect Your Eyes—Many environmental factors can irritate your eyes. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to prevent much irritation with good eye hygiene. Keep your fingers away from your eyes. Wear sunglasses on bright days. Avoid exposing your eyes to harsh fumes or polluted air (like when you walk too close to a running vehicle). And, if you wear eye makeup, always wash it off before bedtime. Of course, you’ll still have to deal with the occasional eyelash or speck that gets in your eye, but following safe practices can prevent a majority irritation.
- Eat Right—Yes, your eyes need a healthy diet, too. An eye twitch can be a sign from your body that something isn’t quite right. Luckily, you don’t need any special eye health diet. Just use common sense. Eat plenty of vegetables. Get enough protein (including some from eye-healthy fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon). Avoid processed foods. And, eat healthy fats from nuts, fatty fish, olive oil, avocadoes, and coconut. Your body (and your eyes in particular) require fat to function properly. Getting enough healthy fats also ensures that your eyes are able to properly moisturize themselves, which will prevent dry eye irritation.
- Treat Your Allergies—Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether you have allergies or a cold. If your symptoms keep coming back, or seem to be triggered in certain seasons, then you likely have some kind of allergy. Your eye spasms may be treated as easily as finding the right allergy treatment.
- Take It Easy on Certain Drinks—Namely, you should limit coffee, soda, tea, energy drinks, and alcohol. Even if you’re not someone who gets jittery and can’t sleep after drinking a soup bowl full of black coffee at two o’clock, your body may be rebelling in other ways. Caffeine and alcohol can both elicit reactions from your nervous system and could be exacerbating your eye issue.
All of the preventive methods listed can be done at home without much planning. In addition, you can try a couple of simple methods to deal with the involuntary muscle contractions in your eyelid once they’ve started. The important thing to do is eliminate the source of your eye problem. First, check for anything in your eye, and run water over it if needed. Then, prepare a warm compress and lay it over your eyes in a dark or dimly lit room. Take some relaxing breaths. You may even want to try a relaxation method, like yoga, if stress seems to be triggering your problem.
Medication and Injections
If your twitch is severe and returns often, you can seek prescription medication from a doctor. However, drugs for eye twitching are unreliable. They work for some people and not others. Also, you may be doing yourself more harm than good if you take the medicine and avoid the source of your eye irritation. If the eye spasms bother you enough that medication is the best option, your doctor will likely prescribe a muscle relaxant.
Doctors may suggest muscle relaxant injections around the eye. Botox is used for this purpose, as well. The injections usually last for a few months, at which point you will need another injection for continued relief.
For dramatic problems with eye twitching, such as the chronic condition called benign essential blepharospasm, your doctor may recommend surgery. Myectomy is a surgery that partially removes the nerves and muscles in the eyelids. Surgery can be risky and carries the possibility of damage to nerves that control normal eye movements.
Most eye twitching is harmless and can be addressed without drugs or invasive procedures. However, if you experience any of the symptoms below, see your doctor to be evaluated for a more serious condition:
- A red or swollen eye
- Eye discharge
- An eyelid that fully closes with each twitch
- Twitching that lasts for more than two weeks
- Twitching that spreads to other areas of your face