Migraine is a condition known for causing moderate to severe head pain and other symptoms that can affect the eyes. However, eye twitching — also called benign essential blepharospasm — isn’t typically related to migraine.
While it’s possible that your migraine could be causing your eyes to twitch, recurring or even long-term eye twitching itself is likely related to another underlying problem.
Read on to learn more about the possible connections. Talk with your doctor if symptoms continue despite treatment and lifestyle changes.
While associated with extremely painful headaches, a migraine is actually a neurological condition that has a variety of symptoms and subtypes. Not all types of migraine lead to eye symptoms, and it’s not clear whether eye twitching is a definitive symptom.
Aside from excruciating head pain, migraine is also known to cause the following symptoms:
- pain on one side of the head, face, or neck
- sensitivity to light or noise
- sensitivity to smells
Symptoms can also vary by type of migraine. One common type of migraine is known as a complicated migraine, or migraine with aura. Aura occurs in about 25 percent of migraine cases.
When you experience aura, you may have visual changes several minutes leading up to a migraine attack. These may be considered warning signs.
Symptoms of aura include:
- seeing zig-zag lines or black dots
- having blurry vision
- feeling tingly or numb on one side of your body
Another type of migraine that affects your vision is called a retinal migraine. Instead of causing visual disturbances, this type of migraine leads to temporary vision loss in one eye.
These symptoms can last several minutes or up to months at a time, and you may not necessarily experience head pain.
It’s also possible that you may not have migraine at all, but a cluster headache instead. Cluster headaches are the most severe types of headaches, and they cause pain around your temples and eyes that also radiates to the back of your head.
With this type of headache, you may even experience redness, swelling, and twitching of the eyes.
Eye twitching itself is an involuntary movement that can cause one or both eyes to blink abnormally. It’s thought to be caused by muscle spasms from around the eye. In rare cases, eye twitching can be caused by problems in the brain.
Retinal migraine is characterized by temporary vision loss. This type of ocular migraine is thought to be caused by reduced blood flow to the retina in your eye. However, eye twitching isn’t a widely reported symptom of this type of migraine.
It’s possible that both your migraine and eye twitching are triggered by the same thing, such as excess caffeine or lack of sleep.
Typically, depending on the severity, eye twitching may occur throughout the day at intervals or become constant. Eye twitching that’s not related to an underlying medical condition is usually temporary.
Eye twitching that’s related to migraine, on the other hand, may occur in the early stages of a migraine attack. Symptoms of aura, such as visual disturbances and body tingling, tend to happen up to 1 hour before head pain and throbbing.
Eye twitching that happens during or after a migraine attack is more likely to be related to another cause, such as a cluster headache.
However, if you experience temporary vision loss after a severe headache, you may be experiencing a retinal migraine.
Just as the triggers of migraine vary, eye twitching has several causes. Most cases aren’t severe or long-term. It’s possible to have an eye twitch for a day or up to several.
Short-term causes of eye twitching may include:
- a lack of sleep
- eye strain
- dry eye
- too much caffeine
- stress or anxiety
- driving long distances
- irritation from allergies, pollution, or chemicals
- exposure to bright lights
- vision problem, which may be corrected with eyeglasses
Sometimes eye twitching is a side effect of medications you may take. In such cases, switching to different medications
Call your doctor if your symptoms are bothersome and if you take any of the following:
- calcium channel blockers
- dopamine agonists
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- antipsychotics or neuroleptics
Some of these same medications, such as SSRIs, are also sometimes used to treat migraine.
Underlying health condition
In rare cases, eye twitching could be a sign of a more serious underlying problem. In such cases, you may notice eye twitching almost every day, along with other involuntary movements.
Possible related conditions include:
- Bell’s palsy
- multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Meige syndrome
- brain inflammation or head injury
Frequent eye twitching can become a nuisance and interfere with your day-to-day tasks. It’s important to talk with your doctor if your migraine symptoms and eye twitching don’t improve despite trying remedies and avoiding your triggers, such as excess caffeine and lack of sleep.
You should also report any new symptoms, including facial pain or concentration difficulties.
It’s important for your doctor to diagnose and treat chronic eye twitching. In rare cases, when left untreated, frequent eye twitching may lead to complications, such as drooping and excess skin around the eyelids. Botulinum toxin injections or eye surgery may be considered.
Eye twitching may sometimes be related to migraine, but it could also be a symptom of an entirely separate condition. It’s also possible that the same triggers of your migraine, such as caffeine or lack of sleep, could be causing eye twitches, too.
If your doctor determines that frequent eye twitching is caused by migraine, it’s important to follow your treatment plan to help decrease their frequency. Call your doctor if eye twitching worsens or fails to improve so they may further evaluate your condition.