Eye twitching can be caused by things as innocuous as staring too long at a computer or can be caused by something more serious like a medical side effect or mental condition.
Here are 12 common and not so common causes of eye twitching and some ways to help alleviate that annoying twitch.
According to Mayo Clinic, stress is a common cause of eye twitching, Stress can cause the body’s nervous system releases stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream which causes the heart to beat faster, blood pressure to rise, breath to quicken, senses to become sharper and muscles to tighten. While temporary stress can prove beneficial in protecting you in an emergency situation by helping you stay focused, energetic, and alert, prolonged stress can be physically and mentally damaging and one of the manifestations is eye twitching.
Amazingly there is no scientific consensus on exactly why our bodies need sleep. Unlike eating and breathing with precise chemical formulas to demonstrate their essential part in existence, there is no one universal equation to demonstrate why we need to sleep. It is accepted though that we do need to in order to live a healthy life.
During sleep the body heals itself and restores chemical imbalances, the brain forges new connections and aids memory creation and retention. Without enough good quality sleep, the brain and body cannot function properly and recent studies have found a consensus that sleeping for less than six to eight hours a night increases the risk of premature death by a huge 12%.
Tiredness is a symptom of sleep deprivation along with yawning, irritability, inability to concentrate and excessive sleepiness. A twitching eye can be a symptom of the body wanting to activate sleep mode and send its user for a much needed 40 winks.
The increase in using computers at work with monitors, televisions at home and Smartphone and tablet screens everywhere else in between means we are at more risk of eye strain than any other time in our history.
Along with eye twitching and discomfort, headaches, watery or dry eyes, blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light and difficulty focusing can all be symptoms of eye strain.
Constant overuse means the eye is working too hard and triggers an eyelid twitch. If this constantly starts to occur then a vision check is recommended. A lot of professionals are implementing a 20-20-20 rule when using devices and screens to help combat eye muscle fatigue. Simply this means that every 20 minutes you should look away from your screen and allow your eyes to focus on an object 20 feet away or longer for at least 20 seconds.
Most people have a cup of tea or coffee on a morning to get up and going, have a chocolate bar or drink energy drinks for a shot of caffeine but too much can have negative consequences far beyond eye twitching.
Caffeine itself has no nutritional value and is tasteless but it always causes the user to feel more energetic. The trouble comes from consumption. Most adults can safely consume up to 400mg of caffeine a day and the more you imbibe, the great your tolerance becomes. If you regularly consume a lot of caffeine on a daily basis then you require more to overcome this and achieve the same effects. Taking too much to get there will trigger negative side effects including jitters, rapid heartbeat, headaches and an increased need to go to the bathroom.
Drinkaware says alcohol is popular to help overcome shyness and increase self confidence and in small amounts is harmless but the cumulative effects of excessive drinking are manifold.
As well as causing eye twitching and blurred vision, too much alcohol can lead to blackouts, slurred speech, addiction and increased dependence on alcohol, numbness, thin bones, muscle cramps and eventual liver disease.
Abstaining from alcohol and letting it work it’s way through the body is a good way of recovering a sense of order and letting the eye muscles recover but ultimately if it is becoming a problem then medical assistance for withdrawal should be sought.
Not everybody will cry at Frozen but according to Optrex, sometimes lack of moisture and tears can cause dry and twitching eyes as a result.
Dry eyes occur when the eye is not producing enough moisture or tears to lubricate it. Moisture helps to keep the surface of the eye smooth, protects them from infection and clears away foreign objects and materials like grit or dirt.
External conditions such as smoke or wind can dry eyes out as well as prolonged exposure to sunlight or in front of a computer screen for longer periods. Fortunately dry eyes is one of the less serious causes of eye twitching and can be treated easily enough with over the counter solutions and remedies from a chemist.
Some recent research points to a lack of Vitamin B12 or Magnesium as a cause of eye twitching and an imbalanced diet would definitely have a lack of these essential vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with muscle weakness and longer term vision problems so vitamin supplements and foods such as milk, chicken, eggs, salmon and red meat will help restore depleted levels.
Magnesium also effects muscle function so foods like leafy green vegetables, bananas, avocados, beans and pumpkin seeds will help bring these levels back into the normal range.
Many people suffer from various allergies but not every one will trigger an eye twitching episode.
They can cause itching, swelling and watery eyes that will contribute to twitching eyes. This is because when eyes are rubbed, histamine is released into the eyelid tissues and tears that can cause an eye to twitch.
A popular remedy is to use eye drops or tablets containing antihistamine to bring the symptom under control but they must be used sparingly as excessive antihistamines can cause dry eyes which is also a source of eye twitching.
An eye twitch can also be an indicator of a more serious physical or brain impairment that can include conditions such as Bells Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or Dystonia.
All these conditions are more serious and involve damage to facial muscles and movements, which mean an eye, will be twitching involuntarily with the user unable to control it.
A medical examination will rule out other causes and can hopefully suggest a less serious cause of an eye twitch.
Another neurological disorder that eye twitching can be a symptom of is Tourette’s Syndrome. This is characterised by involuntary vocal and or motor tics.
The condition is not limited to eye twitching and can also include excessive blinking, squinting, eye rolling, exaggerated eye opening and closing and problems with saccades which is quick simultaneous movement between eyes.
A medical examination by a doctor or optometrist will be able to better diagnose these conditions and eliminate a more serious condition as the originator of the eye twitch.
Medical side effects
It is not unknown for people taking medicines for other conditions to suffer from an eye twitch as an unfortunate side effect. The most common being drugs used to treat various conditions of psychosis and epilepsy.
Fortunately these side effects are short lived and will pass and fade as the treatment for the overlying conditions is completed.
Temporary involuntary spasm
The human body is a miracle of evolution. It is a wondrous as it is complicated and sometimes, even with hundreds of years of medical knowledge and advancements, we still don’t know with absolute certainty why some things happen.
According to Webmd, sometimes an eye twitch can come and go as quickly as it started with no other underlying cause. It can be temporary or happen infrequently and none of the other symptoms explored can provide an explanation.
If this should occur, like any unexplained medical condition that causes discomfort or distress, go and see a doctor for a professional diagnosis and advice.