You’ve probably had it a few times in your life. You’re busy, going about your day, and suddenly, your eye starts to twitch. After about a minute, the twitching stops, and you are relieved, only for the twitching to resume 2-3 minutes later. The cycle could go on all day, and this may get you concerned, wondering what you did to trigger it. But, do not worry. Most often, there is nothing serious behind the twitching.
What Is an Eye Twitch?
Twitching is the involuntary rapid blinking of an eyelid. It happens when one of the two fine facial muscles in charge of your eyelids loses coordination. They are called (get ready for a mouthful):
- levator palpebrae superior (raises the upper eyelid)
- orbicularis oculi (closes the eyelid)
Other eye muscles may also cause twitching, but these two are the primary suspects.
Eye Twitch Triggers
Your eyelid has lots of reasons to start twitching:
- bright light
- excess caffeine
- alcohol and smoking
- eyelid irritation
But these are just the primary reasons why. There’s plenty more.
Eye conditions like dry eye, eyestrain, and other types of vision-related stressors can also cause an eye twitch. It could be that you need new eyeglasses. Eyes also twitch when you stare at a computer for too long. Take a break from your work and look away for a few minutes. Or better yet, take a short walk to relax your eyes and mind.
Eye allergies can also cause your eyes to swell, itch, and become watery. If you have an allergic reaction, get some over-the-counter eye drops specially formulated to relieve your allergy symptoms. But, if you rub your eyes as we all do, the body will release antihistamines into your tear film and eyelid tissues. That can cause the eye to start twitching.
Science indicates that nutritional deficiencies could also make your eyes twitch. A lack of magnesium triggers muscle spasms. This is why people tell you to eat a banana if your calf cramps. So, if your diet lacks some key nutrients, speak with your doctor about getting some nutritional supplements.
Treating Eye Twitch
When your eyes start to twitch, don’t panic. Examine your latest lifestyle choices. See whether you have been stressed or anxious and whether you have been getting enough sleep. It could also be that you’ve been spending too much time staring at a digital screen device.
Now give your eyes and body a rest. Take some time away from your work, relax some more, and take naps if you need to catch up on sleep. Reduce your smoking and your consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
If the twitching persists after making lifestyle adjustments, it’s best to visit an eye doctor. But, you should only be concerned if you see the following:
- Swelling, redness, or discharge from your eye
- Spasms in other facial muscles besides eye muscles
- Twitching for more than 72 hours, especially if it shuts your eyelid
- The upper eyelid is droopy
The optometrist will give you a diagnosis and work with you to come up with a treatment.
The next time your eye starts to twitch, don’t relentlessly rub it until it stops. Most often than not, there is nothing majorly wrong with you, and rubbing it won’t help. You should instead take it as a sign that something in your body is out of equilibrium. Drink more water, get more sleep, and put down the smartphone!