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Why is my eye twitching?

man with an eye twitch

It can be hard to pinpoint exactly why your eye is twitching. In fact, scientists aren’t entirely sure what causes our eyes to twitch at all. But they have some pretty good ideas, based on the lifestyle traits of many people affected by these tiny muscle spasms.

Common problems like stress, fatigue, and the consumption of caffeine and alcohol can likely lead to your eye twitching — and make any existing twitching worse. Luckily, almost all eyelid twitches go away on their own and are rarely cause for concern. And for those stubborn, longer-lasting twitches, at-home eye twitch treatment might be able to help.

To stop eye twitches, the key is to figure out what might be causing them. Depending on the cause, some things will be more difficult to work on than others.

What causes eye twitching?

Here are some of the most common reasons for your eyes to twitch:

You’re under a lot of stress. Tell an eye doctor your eye is twitching, and the first question they might ask is, “Have you been under a lot of stress lately?” Stress can interfere with many of your body’s natural systems, including the way the muscles and nerves communicate in your eyelids.

You didn’t sleep well. Poor sleep patterns can go hand in hand with stress, but not always. Short- and long-term insomnia can be caused by your lifestyle, seasonal changes, or sometimes, no apparent reason at all.

You just drank a cup (or three) of coffee. There is a strong link between eye twitches and the caffeine in drinks such as coffee, tea and soft drinks. Everyone has a different tolerance to caffeinated drinks, so even a weak cup of green tea could trigger an eyelid twitch in someone who isn’t used to caffeine.

You consumed alcohol. Alcohol has short-term effects on your vision, and the same may be true for the muscles in your eyelids. Like caffeine, everyone has a different tolerance to alcohol.

You smoke. Smoking and vision don’t get along very well. Not only does tobacco use increase the risk of several serious eye diseases, it’s also believed to cause eye twitches in some people.

Your diet hasn’t been great. A diet high in processed food and low in nutrients can cause parts of the body to act up from time to time. Specifically, a magnesium deficiency may directly lead to eye twitches and other muscle spasms. People who have problems absorbing nutrients may also have problems with eyelid twitching.

Your eyes are dry. Modern overuse of digital screens is a common cause of dry eyes because we blink less while we’re using them. The eyelid irritation caused by the resulting reduced tear film can lead to eye twitching.

Your vision prescription is out of date. An outdated contact lens or eyeglass prescription can lead to eye strain. Squinting to see more clearly can strain the muscles in your eyelids and cause them to spasm, or twitch.

You have eye allergies. Twitches from eye allergies are believed to come as the result of rubbing your (itchy) eyes. This releases irritating chemicals called histamines into your eyelid area, sometimes causing it to twitch.

You take medication. Certain medicine can cause unusual side effects, including eye twitching. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information if you experience side effects from any drugs you take.

Why does my eye keep twitching?

If you've considered and addressed all the above possible causes but your eye twitch hasn't gone away, it may be time to consider that something more serious is going on. In rare situations, and when present with other symptoms, a persistent eye twitch — lasting more than a week — can point to an underlying disease or condition.

When to see a doctor

Contact your eye doctor if:

  • Your eye twitch lasts for more than a week

  • You have eye redness, swelling or discharge

  • The twitching causes your eyelid to close completely

  • Your eyelid looks like it’s drooping

  • You experience twitching in other parts of your face

SEE RELATED: Eyebrow twitching

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