Eye twitches are often unpredictable, can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and may occur on and off from several days to months. Nevertheless, if you’re wondering “Why do eyes twitch?,” here are five of the most common underlying causes.
Twitches of the muscles around the eyes can be very annoying. They are actually caused by spasms called blepharospasm, for the more serious cases, and myokymia for more common forms. They are sometimes an indication that the services of an ophthalmologist may be required. Such spasms can range in intensity from what feels like a gentle tug to a spasm that forces the eye to completely close. Still others have no symptomology at all.
The body has natural responses to things like stress. Since it can’t talk to you directly it says, “Hey, you!” with spasms. Stress releases hormones into the body which results in muscle arousal. That, in turn, is interpreted by the body as a need for groups of muscles to respond. That response is usually in the form of a twitch, tic or spasm that can occur anywhere on the body.
It’s easy to figure out if stress is the cause of your twitchy eyes since all you have to do is decompress. If the twitch goes away then you’ve found the cause. As with all causal factors, however, it’s important to note that different bodies do not react the same way when under stress but often respond in a similar way to de-stressing activities. Things like yoga, spending time with loved ones or pets or even just getting away from it all for the weekend should relieve your symptoms.
2. Eye Strain
Vision problems are one of the leading causes of twitching around the eyes. But why do eyes twitch because of this? When your eyes have to work too hard it causes the muscles to spasm. This is similar to what happens in the leg muscles in a jogger. When it comes to the eyes, it may be time to change the prescription on your glasses or even to get glasses for the first time. If twitching is a result of eye strain, then seeing an opthomogist for a new prescription should alleviate the problem.
Today, with the overuse of computers, tablets and smartphones more and more people are developing symptoms of eye muscle fatigue which includes twitching around the eyes. That’s one reason why ophthalmologists came up with the “20-20-20” rule. It recommends that for every 20 minutes spent in front of a digital screen you should look away and focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds or longer. However, it can be inconvenient especially when at work. As a result, many people opt to get a prescription for glasses they wear only while working on the computer.
3. Dry Eye Syndrome
As people age, one of the side effects is dry eyes. The condition has also become very common in those with careers that require extensive computer work or wear contact lenses. It has also been shown that caffeine, alcohol, stress and fatigue can contribute to the problem. What few people realize, however, is that certain medications can also cause eye twitching. Medications like antihistamines, antidepressants and the like are frequently associated with dry eye syndrome.
Gritty and dry eyes along with twitching muscles around the eyes often requires the diagnosis of a doctor as the symptoms might indicate a vision-threatening condition. While waiting for the appointment, however, it’s important to remember the eyes require constant lubrication in order to stay healthy. Products like eye drops and eye lubricants can also help relieve muscles spasms within a short period of time as well as in the future.
4. An Imbalance in Nutrition
There are certain substances the body requires in order to stay healthy. These include vitamins and minerals. Nutritional imbalances have little to do with your eating habits. Rather, it’s an inability of the body to properly process and absorb the vitamins and minerals necessary to keep it in tip-top shape. Deficiencies in these substances often affect how the muscles in the body function, depending on what’s missing.
Electrolytes, for example, are charged minerals that affect how the muscles act. That includes muscles in and around the eyes. Vitamin B12, on the other hand, can lead to muscle weakness, shaky movements and spasticity. If you’re deficient in Vitamin D you may find a loss of control of muscle contractions.
And when magnesium, which regulates cell energy metabolism, gets too low the result is twitching muscles including in the eyes. A simple blood test can determine if you might be low in Vitamins D, Magnesium or B12 and is much preferred over selecting over-the-counter nutritional products at random.
5. Brain and Nervous System Disorders
Sometimes twitching eyes are caused by more serious problems that require a medical diagnosis. It’s important to note, however, that in such cases additional symptoms accompany twitching eyes. Some of the most common conditions that fall into this case are Bell’s Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Tourette’s Syndrome.
There are also various forms of Dystonia including Oromandibular, Cervical and Facial Dystonia. Why do eyes twitch when you suffer from Dystonia? In this group of disorders, muscles contract involuntarily resulting in twisting or repetitive movements and can affect one part of the body, two or more adjacent parts or all parts of the body. Regardless of which problem you may suspect, consulting a healthcare professional as soon as possible is essential.
Complications of Eye Twitches
For some people eye twitching is a chronic and severe condition. In such cases there can be long-term damage to the areas in and around the eyes. Complications that can result often include any or all of the following:
- Upper eyelids that do not remain open all the way.
- Eyebrows that rest lower than normal.
- Excess skin on the upper or lower eyelids.
- Eyelids that fold abnormally.
- The development of spasms in other parts of the body like the neck or jaw.
Before things get to this point, it’s always important to seek professional guidance if the spasms continue for an extended period of time.
So why do eyes twitch? There could be many reasons why muscles twitch around the eyes. The treatment and outlook vary depending on the person as well as the cause. It does not appear to run in families but is more likely the result of one of the causes listed above. The good news is that by treating the underlying cause the condition should resolve itself rather quickly.