Have you experienced eye twitching? Eye twitching is usually associated with tiredness, stress and drinking too much coffee or alcohol.
What are eye twitches?
Eye twitches (or eyelid myokymia) are involuntary contractions of the muscles around your eye. Eye twitches can affect both the upper or lower eyelids. They are normally benign, which means they often stop on their own and rarely need medical intervention.
Episodes of eye twitching typically last for a couple of minutes and you may find that they come and go throughout the day.
If your eye twitch lasts for more than two weeks, you should book an appointment with your doctor straight away. Intermittent twitching is rarely a cause for concern but persistent or chronic twitching can be a symptom of neurological conditions like benign fasciculation syndrome or dystonia.
Persistent or prolonged twitching that results in your eyes being squeezed shut for several minutes or hours could also be a symptom of blepharospasm, a rare neurological condition that can cause your eyes to shut for long periods of time.
Below you’ll find information about the common and uncommon causes of eye twitching, guidance to help you manage twitching, and information on when to worry about eyelid twitches.
When to worry about eye twitches
Occasional eye twitches are relatively common and normally go away on their own. You should be concerned if:
- you have a twitch for more than two weeks
- you have a twitch in more than one place
- the affected area feels weak
- you think a prescribed medicine might be causing your twitch
Common causes of eye twitching
Eye twitching is commonly associated with:
- tiredness and exhaustion
- stress and anxiety
- drinking too much coffee or alcohol
- eye irritation
- eye strain
- mineral deficiencies (particularly magnesium and potassium)
- the side effects of some prescription medications
Less common causes of eye twitching
Persistent or chronic twitching can be a symptom of several less common medical conditions, including:
- eye problems such as blepharitis and dry eyes
- benign fasciculation syndrome
- Tourette's syndrome
- nervous system disorders like Parkinson’s disease
- multiple sclerosis
If you think you might have one of these conditions, you should book an appointment with your doctor straight away. They will be able to arrange the relevant tests, and help you to diagnose your condition.
What can I do to stop my eyes twitching?
To help manage twitches, you could try the following methods.
Cut down on caffeine
Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant that is known to cause muscle spasms and twitches throughout the body. By cutting down on the amount of caffeine you ingest, you may be able to reduce the frequency and severity of your twitches.
Caffeine is found in coffee, energy drinks, soft drinks, and tea. Trace amounts of caffeine can also be found in some chocolate products. To cut down on your caffeine intake, try to gradually replace these drinks with water, but take care to reduce your intake gradually because caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches and make you irritable.
Adjust your diet
Electrolytes like magnesium and potassium play a key role in regulating muscle activity in the body, and an electrolyte imbalance can cause eye twitches. A doctor may ask you to have blood tests done to find out if you have an electrolyte imbalance.
If your twitches are the result of an electrolyte imbalance, you can address the problem by consuming more:
- fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
All of these foods are good sources of essential electrolytes like magnesium and potassium. Fortified breakfast cereals are also a plentiful source of essential micronutrients and may help you to tackle any nutrient imbalances.
Get more sleep
Exhaustion and fatigue are commonly associated with muscle spasms. By improving your sleep hygiene and prioritising rest, you may be able to reduce the occurrence of irritating eye twitches.
Find some useful advice on how to improve the quality of your sleep.