It is a feeling that is both subtle and annoying. You’re minding your own business when all of a sudden your eye begins to twitch. There are several causes for eye twitching, and it’s not just you who experiences it.
Mark Blecher, M.D., eye surgeon and co-director of Wills Eye Hospital Primary Eye Care, tells SELF, “This is very common.” Dr. Blecher explains that when your eye appears to be twitching, it is actually your eyelid muscle (known as the orbicularis oculi) that is spasming. “It may occur several times in a row before ceasing, and for some individuals, it may occur again later that day.”
Myokymia is the technical term for this condition, which is caused by misfiring neurons in the eyelid muscle, according to JP Maszczak, O.D., assistant professor of clinical optometry at the Ohio State University College of Optometry. “This is typically a benign condition around one eye that the majority of people will experience at least a few times in their lifetime,” he says.
Certainly, eye twitching can occur at inopportune times, and it’s probably not the look you’re going for on a regular basis. It is therefore understandable that you would attempt to prevent future eyelid spasms.
Most Common Causes of Eye Twitching
1. You have an infection of the eyelid
According to Dr. Blecher, eyelid inflammation, which frequently results from blepharitis, is a major cause of eye twitching. He explains that blepharitis occurs frequently when bacteria enter the eyelids, causing inflammation and redness that makes the muscles twitch. If you have blepharitis, he recommends wetting a washcloth with hot water and placing it over your eye for a few minutes several times per day. Dr. Blecher explains: “That can go a long way toward making things better and stopping the twitching.”
2. You’re under stress
You’re up against a crazy work deadline, and all of a sudden your eyelid begins to behave strangely. While extremely irritating, this is also perfectly normal. According to John Hovanesian, M.D., an eye surgeon at Harvard Eye Associates in Laguna Hills, California, stress causes the release of adrenergic chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline, triggering the body’s fight-or-flight response. “This can make muscles more sensitive and irritable than usual,” he explains. According to Dr. Blecher, any type of stress, whether chronic or sudden, can cause your eyelid to spasm.
3. You consumed too much chocolate or caffeine
Caffeine in coffee and chocolate can stimulate the nerves and muscles surrounding the eyelid, resulting in eyelid twitching. Amy Zimmerman, M.D., an ophthalmologist with Katzen Eye Group, says, “I see more benign eyelids twitching immediately following Valentine’s Day because someone ate too much chocolate.” Fortunately, according to Dr. Zimmerman, the random twitching should disappear once you reduce your caffeine intake. Eye twitching is predisposed by anything that stimulates the nervous system, according to Dr. Blecher, but it does not occur in everyone. If you are prone to experiencing eye twitches after consuming too much caffeine, you should limit your intake in the future.
4. You’re extremely fatigued
Your sympathetic nervous system, which controls many of your involuntary actions, kicks into high gear when you’re exhausted. As a result, your eyelid may begin to twitch. “For some reason, it worsens as fatigue increases,” Dr. Zimmerman explains. According to her, the easiest solution is to get more sleep, which may be easier said than done.
The majority of cases of eyelid twitching do not require evaluation by a physician, according to Dr. Maszczak. However, if the spasming worsens, spreads to one side of your face, or causes your eyelids to close involuntarily, you should contact your eye doctor, he advises; it could be an indication of a corneal abrasion, dry eyes, or a neurological condition. Dr. Maszczak says that eye twitching typically subsides within one to two weeks, but if it is severe and persistent, Botox injections may be helpful.
If you experience random eyelid twitching, pause and consider the possible causes. It could be your body’s way of telling you to de-stress, reduce your caffeine intake, or turn in early tonight—or all three.
- Have you tried any relaxation techniques or eye exercises to reduce eye twitching?
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