It's common to experience an eye twitch once in a while. This symptom stems from an involuntary muscle spasm in the upper or lower eyelid. Most often these eyelid twitches, or tics, come on suddenly, are harmless, and disappear after after a brief appearance. Mild but persistent eyelid spasms may be linked to fatigue, stress, dry eyes or excess caffeine intake — and countering these may help stop the twitch.
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Step 1: Rest
Your eyelid muscles are more likely to twitch if you are tired. The spasms typically stop when you sleep, and stay away when you are well rested. Take care of yourself and get plenty of sleep. Eye fatigue, caused by reading or working on a computer for long periods of time, can also cause spasms, so take breaks regularly to rest your eyes.
Step 2: Reduce Stress
Stress may also trigger eye twitching. Make changes to reduce the stress in your life, if possible. Counter stress by taking a walk, listening to music, engaging in hobbies and spending time with friends. Do things you enjoy, and practice relaxation techniques to keep calm when stressful situations arise.
Step 3: Cut the Caffeine
Since caffeine is a stimulant, it can also contribute to eye twitching. Limit or avoid beverages or foods that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, colas, chocolate and energy drinks. Also avoid over-the-counter (OTC) medications that contain caffeine.
Step 4: Moisturize
Sometimes, dry eyes are the underlying reason for the eye twitching, and OTC saline eye drops may help ease these symptoms — and relieve the twitch. If you have symptoms of dry eyes, speak with your eye doctor.
Step 5: See Your Doctor
Less commonly, disorders of the nervous system, such as blepharospasm or hemifacial spasms cause more severe eye or face symptoms. These conditions may require treatment with medications, surgery or botulinum toxin (Botox) injection. Rarely, eye twitching is a sign of a more serious disorder.
Reviewed by Kay Peck, MPH RD
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- American Academy of Ophthalmology: How to Stop Eye Twitching
- Merck Manual: Blepharospasm
- Journal of Neuro-Opthalmology: Chronic Myokymia Limited to the Eyelid Is a Benign Condition
- American Academy of Opthalmology: What Is an Eyelid Spasm or Twitching Eyelid?
- The Eye Digest --- Dry Eye Drug Treatments