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Common causes of eye twitching

A twitching eyelid is very common and it’s likely that you’ve experienced it before. We’ve all been in a situation where you’re talking to someone and your eye suddenly begins to twitch. You descend into a mini panic as it feels distracting, noticeable and almost like you’re throwing an awkward wink at the other person.

The good news is that according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, most twitches are slight enough that someone looking at your face won’t even realise – *cue sigh of relief*.

So, what is it exactly?

The official term for this occurrence is myokymia. It feels like a flicker or gentle tug on your eyelid. It can be a brief and minor annoyance, but it can eventually become incredibly bothersome. It’s hard to determine just how long it may stick around – it could be a few seconds or minutes leading to a few days or longer. 

When we experience this sensation, it’s because the nerves that are connected to our eyelid are involuntarily spasming. We’ll take a look into some common causes further below, but it’s worth noting that in most cases this type of nerve activity is not considered a serious condition. Don’t panic.

Why does this happen?

Stress: A leading culprit… stress throws off our bodies nervous system and is one of the most common causes behind this tic. Reducing stress is key – so ensure you’re taking breaks regularly and perhaps find some calming activities. 

Man covering his eyes

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Tiredness: When you’re awake, so are your eyes and whilst you may be able to exhaust your body and stay active for longer than usual, our eyes need a rest. Eyelid twitches are more likely to happen if you’re overly tired, so settle in for a deep snooze.

Woman sleeping

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Technology: Whether it’s your phone, your computer at work or even VR headsets, technology is now a key component to our everyday life. Whilst the latest gadgets may bring us many benefits, they can also take a toll on our eyes. Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes and look at something 20 meters away.  

Man working on laptop

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Dryness: If your eyes are irritated or dry, you’ll naturally blink more to increase the moisture levels. This can then increase the chances of eyelid spasms. If you’re experiencing eye dryness, talk with your optician about a dry eye assessment.

Dry ground

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Caffeine: Many of us start our day with a large coffee thanks to its stimulant properties. Whilst it may help us power through work and activities, it can be a major player in causing your eyelid to spasm. Limiting your coffee or fizzy drink intake may help in the battle of you vs. the twitch.

Cups of coffee

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Prescription: If you suspect that your prescription is too weak or too strong, you may be suffering from eye strain. It’s worth checking in with your optician to evaluate the health of your eyes.

Opticians equipment

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How can I treat a twitching eye?

As eyelid spasms eventually go away on their own after a few hours or days, a definitive treatment isn’t usually necessary. As we’ve seen, most common causes are related to your lifestyle, so there’s a few things that you can try to help make them less frequent:

  • Use eye drops regularly – especially if you’re suffering with eye dryness.
  • Rest and get plenty of sleep. It’s recommended to have between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Monitor your caffeine intake. It’s recommended that 400mg a day (about 4 cups of coffee) appears to be safe for most healthy adults.
  • Apply a warm compress to the affected eye for a few minutes. The warmth will help relax the muscles. A gentle massage with the tips of your finger may help too!
  • Relax and try to eliminate stress in your daily life. Perhaps try yoga or meditation, which will not only help to reduce the recurrence of twitching, but also boost your overall wellbeing.