6 Weird Reasons Your Eye is Twitching

This article discusses some common causes of eye twitching and offers a quiz for people who have the condition to find out the cause of their affliction.

An Asian lady smiling with her right eye closed

Have you experienced your eye twitching uncontrollably after binge-watching the latest k-drama on Netflix for a couple of hours? 

An eye twitch or myokymia is an involuntary spasm of the muscles in the eyelids, causing abnormal blinking that may happen many times in a day. The twitch usually happens in the upper eyelid but may sometimes occur in both the upper and lower eyelids. If the eye twitching is severe, it may affect one’s vision. 

The twitching sensation, whether it is in the right or left eye, is generally painless and harmless. It can be due to several causes and is rarely indicative of a more serious underlying condition.

Some people may have an occasional eye twitch when they are tired or have consumed a lot of caffeine. It can happen to anyone, but it is more common in middle-aged and older women. 

If you have eyelid twitches often and are curious to discover what causes it, you can take the following quiz to help you figure it out.

Dry Eye Syndrome (DES)

In DES, the eyes lack sufficient lubrication, which can be caused by irritants, allergies, and insufficient or poor-quality tears. The nervous system tries to fix it by increasing the eyes’ blinking rate to refresh the tear film. If the brain sends too many signals to increase the blink rate, the eyelid muscles may get overloaded with signals and become tired from the excess blinking, resulting in twitching. It becomes more noticeable and irritating when the eyelid muscles become more fatigued. 

Some symptoms of DES include dry and irritated eyes, watery eyes, blurry vision, grittiness, and a stinging or burning sensation. 

Stress 

Likely cause of our eye twitching is stress. Try practicing some relaxation techniques to help you relax. 

Fatigue 

Likely cause of your eye twitching is tiredness and lack of rest/sleep. This means you need to rest more and get good quality sleep. 

A woman working on her laptop in an open office, pinching the corners of her eyes
Working on a laptop for long hours might cause eye strain that could lead to eye twitching.

Eye strain  

You may be suffering from eye strain. In this case, you need to rest your eyes to give them time to recover.

Hemifacial spasm  

If you answered YES to question 9, a likely cause of your eye twitching is a hemifacial spasm.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (UK), a hemifacial spasm is a neuromuscular disorder where one experiences frequent involuntary contractions (spasms) of the muscles on one side (hemi) of the face (facial). It may be due to a facial nerve injury, or a tumor, or it may have no known cause. Hemifacial spasms have been found most often to be caused by a blood vessel pressing on the facial nerve at the place where it exits the brainstem. Doctors rarely see individuals with spasm on both sides of the face.

The first symptom is usually an intermittent twitching of the eyelid muscle that can lead to forced closure of the eye. The spasm may then gradually spread to involve the muscles of the lower face, which may cause the mouth to be pulled to one side. Eventually the spasms involve all the muscles on one side of the face almost continuously.

The disorder occurs in both men and women, although it more frequently affects middle-aged or elderly women. It is much more common in the Asian population.

Benign Essential Blepharospasm 

If you answered YES to questions 10 and 11, you might be suffering from Benign Essential Bepharospasm (BEB).

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (UK) defines a Benign Essential Blepharospasm (BEB) as a progressive neurological disorder with involuntary muscle contractions and spasms of the eyelid muscles. It is a form of dystonia, a movement disorder in which muscle contractions cause sustained eyelid closure, twitching or repetitive movements.

It starts gradually with increased occurrence of eye blinking, often happening together with eye irritation. Patients may also report an increasing difficulty in keeping the eyes open, and light sensitivity.

Usually, the spasms happen when the patient is awake, but stop during sleep, and restart after waking. As BEB gets worst, the spasms may intensify and eventually force the eyelids to remain closed for long periods of time. Unable to see for long periods of time, the patient will experience functional blindness. However, it is important to note that the blindness is caused solely by the uncontrollable closing of the eyelids and the eyeballs themselves are not affected and remain functional.

BEB happens in both men and women but it’s more common in middle-aged and elderly women. 

Eye Twitching According To TCM 

Physician Chu I Ta states that in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principle theory, the Eyes are related to the function of the Liver. Thus, any disorder or degeneration of the eyes or eye diseases is mostly related to Liver Blood Deficiency. Protecting the function of the Liver is a fundamental healthcare tip to improve or protect the Eyes. 

Certain physiological and psychological factors may also affect or worsen the condition. Eye twitching may be an early sign of eye disease or a facial nerve response.

A woman in bed sleeping with a smile on her face
You must have enough rest and sleep to improve the condition of your eyes.

Get sufficient rest

To reduce eye twitching, you must have sufficient rest and sleep. According to the TCM biological horary cycle, there are two important time periods for sleep: 11am-1pm and 11pm-1am. 11am-1pm is the period controlled by the Heart, and its function propels and transports the blood. Avoid exhausting activities or exercises during those two hours. Taking a short nap after lunch is also a good practice to improve blood circulation and enhance your oxygen activity rate in the body. 

Meanwhile, 11pm-1am is the period governed by the Liver. When you are asleep, blood will restore and detoxify your Liver. As a result, sleeping late will cause the Degeneration of the Liver function and Deficiency of the Liver blood. 

Include greens in your diet

Another recommendation to improve the condition is to opt for a green diet. Consuming more green vegetables such as broccoli, celery and spinach will help regenerate the Liver and improve eyesight. There are vitamins and minerals that can help to improve eye health too, such as Lutein and Zeaxanthin, Bilberry, Vitamin A and Beta carotene. You can take numerous eye health supplements such as Qi ju di huang pills (杞菊地黄丸)

Leafy green vegetables for a smoothie 
Leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, celery and spinach can be added to your diet to improve Liver function and eyesight.

“Consume less spicy, sugary and deep-fried foods, which are known to have less nutrients. Avoid alcohol, as alcohol will cause excess toxins in the body and damage the liver,” advises Physician Chu.

Drink herbal teas

Make this herbal tea that Physician Chu recommends: 

Ingredients:

10g wolfberries 

20g chrysanthemum 

15g Cassia seed  

20g Rehmannia glutinosa  

15g Acorus gramineus  

6g Periostracum Cicada  

Place the herbs in a herbal tea bag and boil with 1 litre of boiling water for 20-30 minutes. Drink the tea once a day.

Once cooled, the boiled herbs in the teabag can be applied on the eyes externally. Leave on for five to 10 minutes. It will help relieve tension and eyelid muscle spasms. 

Try acupuncture

Physician Chu recommends applying pressure on these acupoints, which are the main points for the eyes. Press and knead each acupoint for two to three minutes, and repeat twice or thrice daily: 

  • Cuan zhu (BL2, 攒竹) 
  • Si zhu kong (SJ23, 丝竹空) 
  • Yu yao (EXHN4, 鱼腰) 
  • Jing ming (BL1, 睛明) 
  • Cheng qi (ST1, 承泣) 
  • Tong zi liao (GB1, 瞳子髎) 

Fit in exercise

“Exercise can not only help one to lose weight and prevent obesity, but also to reduce fatty acid in the Liver. The Liver function will be regulated with strong muscles and circulation in the body and will help in protecting the Eyes,” he adds.  

Think positive

Lastly, stay positive! Physician Chu explains that anger is the emotion that will cause damage to the Liver. Anger will lead to abnormal Liver qi stagnation, which may manifest in issues such as mental depression and irritability. Staying optimistic and calm is the best way to protect the Liver and the Eyes.

If you have an eyelid twitch and are concerned about it, do visit a qualified healthcare professional for a consultation. You will be assessed and advised on treatment options. It is usually temporary and might go off after a while if you take care of yourself, de-stress and rest more.

References

  1. Cedars Sinai. N.d. Eye Twitching.   [Accessed on 25 April 2022]  
  2. John Hopkins Medicine. N.d. Eye Twitching. [Accessed on 25 April 2022]
  3. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 2019. Hemifacial Spasm. [Accessed on 25 April 2022]
  4. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 2019. Benign Essential Blepharospasm. [online] Available at  [Accessed on 25 April 2022]  

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