What’s Causing Your Eye Twitching?

Eye twitching actually refers to the twitching of the eyelid rather than the eye itself and is a common problem that most people have experienced at some point in their lives. But while eye twitching typically lasts just a few moments for most people, for some it’s an issue that can last for days or even weeks at a time. Persistent eye twitching, medically known as a myokymia, could be a sign of neurological conditions, which although rare should be checked out straight away by an optician.

What are the causes of eye twitching?

There are many reasons why you might be experiencing eye twitching, including stress, lack of sleep, eye strain or caffeine which are the most common causes. Problems with your toric lenses, daily contact lenses or multifocal lenses (and main contact lenses)can be a significant factor. Alcohol, problems with your diet and nutrition deficiencies, allergies or dry eyes are also to blame in most cases. In rarer cases, chronic eyelid twitches are a sign of benign essential blepharospasm which is a neurological disorder that results in muscle contractions and spasms around the eyes. If it’s left untreated, this condition can actually become so severe that it causes the eyelids to squeeze shut for hours at a time. Scientists aren’t sure what causes essential blepharospasm, but it’s believed to be a result of both genetic and environmental factors.

Although it might sound worrying, the condition isn’t life-threatening, and it can be managed quite easily.

When should you see an optician?

In most cases, temporary eyelid twitches are nothing more than the result of electrical activity in the brain which causes nerve cells to signal the muscles to spasm. But if you’re struggling with eye twitching on a regular basis, it’s best to get your eyes tested to ensure there’s nothing more severe occurring. In particular, if you notice any sudden changes in your eyes or if you find that your eyelids clamp shut so tightly that you’re unable to open them, book in for a test as soon as possible as this can be a sign of a more severe condition.

How can it be treated?

There are several ways to deal with eye twitching, from lifestyle changes to medical treatments depending on the cause and the severity of the twitches. If your eye twitches are caused by stress or fatigue, making changes to your sleep schedule and factoring in time for calming activities like yoga and breathing exercises can help lower your stress levels and help your body relax.

Similarly, if eye strain is the cause of your twitching then making time to schedule in plenty of screen breaks will help give your eyes time to rest and recuperate. Over the counter eye drops can help to keep the surface of the eye moist and lubricated too which can often help, as dry eyes can lead to irritation which often results in twitches. Diet can play a big part in eye health, so try cutting back on coffee, tea and alcohol to see if these improve your eye twitching. You might also find it beneficial to check with your GP about nutritional supplements if you’re concerned that a deficiency is to blame.

If your condition is long-lasting and persistent, Botox may be recommended to help treat the problem. Botox injections can stop the muscle contractions that cause the twitching, providing relief to those who suffer for days or weeks at a time with this problem. This treatment is most commonly prescribed for people suffering from benign essential blepharospasm. In extremely rare cases, surgery to remove some of the nerves and muscles in the eyelids (known as a myectomy) can treat benign essential blepharospasm.