Muscle twitches or spasms are involuntary movements that can happen all over the body, including the eyelids. When your eyelid twitches, it can move the skin around the eyebrow, causing it to move. The spasms can last for a few seconds or several hours. Most twitches go away without treatment.
General eye twitching is different from hemifacial spasms, a lifelong condition caused by damaged or irritated facial nerves. Hemifacial spasms usually happen on one side of the face and expand beyond the eye.
Lots of things, from too much coffee to not enough sleep, can cause eye spasms. Twitching eyes may also be a sign of a more serious illness, so it’s important to work with your doctor to figure out the underlying cause.
Consuming too much caffeine may cause your eyes to twitch. Keep a record of how much caffeine you drink, along with any eye twitches to see if the two are related. If your eyes tend to twitch more when you drink caffeine, cutting back on coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks should help.
2. Alcohol, drugs, or tobacco
Drinking alcohol, using tobacco, or taking recreational drugs can all cause your eyes to twitch. Reducing your alcohol intake and avoiding tobacco and recreational drugs could fix the problem.
Taking certain medications, especially antiepileptic or antipsychotic medications, can cause your eyes to twitch. If your medication is causing your eyes to twitch and it bothers you, talk to your doctor about trying a different medication or dosage.
Stress produces many physical reactions, including eye twitching. Try to eliminate any sources of stress that you can. When that isn’t possible, try relaxation techniques, such as exercise or meditation.
Straining your eyes or squinting can cause eye twitching. If you find yourself squinting a lot outside, wear sunglasses. If you spend a lot of time at a computer, make sure you take breaks or try the 20-20-20 rule. Twitching can also mean that it’s time for a new prescription if you wear glasses or contact lenses.
Your eyes are more likely to twitch when you’re out of energy. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. If you’re getting enough sleep but are still feeling fatigued, talk to your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions.
7. Nutritional issues
Not getting enough magnesium or potassium in your diet may also cause your eyes to twitch.
Adding these foods to your diet may help:
- dark chocolate
People with allergies may be more susceptible to eye twitching. Researchers believe that histamine, which is released when you rub your irritated eyes, may cause eye twitching. Medication and treatments that relieve allergy symptoms may help.
9. Bell’s palsy
Bell’s palsy causes a temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles in your face. This usually happens when your facial nerve becomes swollen or compressed. The exact cause is unknown but it’s thought to be caused by a virus, such as herpes simplex. It can also be associated with other conditions like ear infections, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Other symptoms of Bell’s palsy include:
- drooping on one side of face
- an inability to open or close eyes
- difficulty making facial expressions or smiling
- facial twitches
- difficulty eating and drinking
Bell’s palsy usually resolves on its own, but there are also several medications and eye drops that can help you manage it. Make sure to see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
Dystonia refers to uncontrollable muscle spasms that cause slow, repetitive movements. It can affect many parts of the body, including the eyes. Dystonia is often a symptom of one of these conditions:
- Parkinson’s disease
- brain aneurysm
- Huntington’s disease
- cerebral palsy
- alcoholic ketoacidosis
11. Multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) causes your immune system to attack your central nervous system. In addition to eye twitching, MS can also cause:
While there’s no cure for MS, there are several medications and therapy options that can help you manage its symptoms and slow its progress.
12. Tourette syndrome
Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary, repetitive speech and movement. This can include eye twitching. It tends to occur in males and usually first appears between the ages of three and nine. Tourette syndrome doesn’t always require treatment. Medications and therapy can help treat more severe cases.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, talk to your doctor to rule out any potentially serious causes of eyebrow twitching:
- the twitching doesn’t stop after a few weeks
- your eyelids or other facial muscles droop
- your eye becomes red and swollen, or has discharge
- twitching happens in other parts of your face or body
- your eyelid completely closes when the twitching occurs
Eye twitching usually resolves without any treatment and sometimes lifestyle changes can help. If changes to your habits, sleep schedule, stress levels, or diet don’t work, work with your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions.