Could Someone Please Explain Why My Eye Won’t Stop Twitching?

Photo: Getty Images/Su Arslanoglu
Life is full of pesky little surprises. Some examples: learning your milk is expired after pouring it into your coffee, or finding out you wore your shirt inside out the whole day. Another fun one? Getting random eye twitches out of nowhere.

While they're definitely annoying, and can make you look inadvertently pissed (or even like you're an extra in a horror movie), the most common type of eye twitches (myokymia, per the Mayo Clinic) is rarely cause for concern. These twitches are basically muscle spasms around your eyelid that force involuntary eye movements. Most of the time, they crop up thanks to certain lifestyle habits, though in rare cases, can signal an underlying health issue.

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No matter the cause, eye twitching can be pretty disruptive to your day-to-day life. Sure, they're often too small for friends, coworkers, or partners to notice, per the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), but you can feel them, which is all the more reason to figure out how to get them to stop.

If this sounds like your life currently, here's some possible reasons why your eye won't stop twitching, and how to treat each one. Plus, home remedies to stop them in the moment, and when to see a doctor about twitching that lingers.

1. You’re not getting enough sleep

The CDC recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. And not getting enough sleep could be contributing to that whole eye-twitching thing, according to Robert Graham, MD, internal and integrative medicine doctor and co-founder of FRESH Medicine. So if your eye’s been at it for days and you’ve also been staying up too late every night, your exhaustion might be the source of your persistent twitches.

What to do: Aim to go to sleep around the same time every night, and try to log between seven and nine hours of shut-eye. Try relaxation techniques before bed to help you fall asleep—like meditation, deep breathing, or a free sleep app. Keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet (i.e., the ideal sleeping atmosphere), or using a white noise machine if you need a little background sound, can help, too.

2. You're stressed or anxious

Stressed at work? Anxious about anything and everything? Dr. Graham says that both are common eye twitching triggers. If you suspect this is the case, try traditional stress-reduction tactics like hitting up your favorite spin class, meditating, going for a walk, or setting aside some quiet time with your favorite book—however you choose to relax, lowering your stress levels should help reduce your eye twitch.

What to do: Try implementing your favorite stress-relieving devices to help you relax throughout the day. Settle down in the moment with things like deep breathing, mindfulness, stretching, journaling, or making a cup of tea. If your anxiety is persistent, consider reaching out to a therapist for support.

3. You have an electrolyte imbalance

If your eye is twitching and you're not sure the reason why, checking in with your electrolytes could be a good place to start. Electrolytes (namely, magnesium and potassium) help control muscle function, so when they're out of balance, it's possible you may feel twitchy, per Dr. Graham.

Try loading up on foods high in electrolytes like bananas or sweet potatoes. Or replenish your electrolytes with hydrating beverages like coconut water or sports drinks.

Magnesium or potassium supplements may also be helpful if you think you have a deficiency. But talk to your doctor before trying these, as most healthy people aren't deficient in either.

What to do: The best way to make sure you're getting enough electrolytes and essential nutrients is by eating a balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein. It's also best to stay hydrated; aim to get 11 to 15 cups of water per day, through drinking and hydrating foods, per the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

4. Your eyes are strained

If you keep refreshing Instagram and checking your email a thousand times a day, your stress levels aren’t the only thing at risk—you’re also straining your eyes. And Dr. Graham says that eye strain could lead to eye twitching. Try things like:

  • Reducing your time on your computer, phone, or tablet
  • Taking regular eye breaks (where you look away from your screen and off at a distant point for at least 20 seconds).

What to do: Alongside taking regular eye breaks from your screens, closing your eyes and gently massaging your eyelids could also help reduce some pain and discomfort. Wearing blue light glasses while working on your computer, for instance, may also help cut down on eye strain.

5. You've had too much caffeine

We know, we know—there are few things better than a steaming hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning. The only problem? Too much caffeine has been linked to eye twitching, says Dr. Graham and the AAO. So if you notice your twitch start up after your morning caffeine jolt, consider cutting back a bit and see if it makes a difference.

What to do: Try slowly cutting down on the amount of caffeine you drink throughout the day—including drinks like tea, soda, and energy drinks. The FDA recommends limiting caffeine to 400 milligrams per day, which is equivalent to about four or five cups of home-brewed coffee.

6. You're taking certain meds

Eye twitching can be a frustrating side effect of some medications, including some meds that are used to treat Parkinson's disease, per the Mayo Clinic. Other medications that could cause eye twitching are ones with caffeine—like certain migraine medications, although this is a rare side effect, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

What to do: If you think one of your medications might be causing your eye twitch, don't stop them cold turkey. Talk to your doctor about other medication options, or adjusting your dose.

7. You have blepharitis (aka, eyelid inflammation)

Persistent eye twitching could be a symptom of a condition called blepharitis‚ which is just medical speak for eyelid inflammation. It can be from a bacterial infection, or from a skin issue like rosacea or dandruff, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA). Other symptoms of blepharitis can include common eye health concerns like the following, per the AOA:

  • Swollen or red eyelids
  • Itchy, crusty eyelids
  • Tearing
  • Dry eye
  • A burning sensation in or around your eyes

What to do: Treating blepharitis will depend on what's causing it. If it's from a bacterial infection, you'll need to get antibiotics from your doctor. If it's from a skin condition or irritant, gently washing and scrubbing your eyelids with a non-irritating soap, and then applying anti-itch ointment can be helpful. You can also try eye drops to treat any burning and dryness, per the Mayo Clinic.

Adding these steps to your daily skin-care routine could help reduce symptoms over time, which may also help reduce twitching.

8. You have a neurological disorder

In rare instances, eye twitching could mean you have an underlying problem with your nervous system. However, keep in mind that these conditions will almost always have other symptoms associated with them as well. Some conditions associated with eye twitching include the following, per the Mayo Clinic:

  • Bell's palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Dystonia (a movement disorder that causes muscles to contract involuntarily—which can include cervical, facial, or jaw/tongue dystonia)

In extremely rare cases, you could have a condition called benign essential blepharospasm—or involuntary spasms of your eyelid, which can cause your eyes to close or blink uncontrollably. It can affect both your eyes and come with grimacing, jaw clenching, or tongue protrusion, per the National Organization for Rare Disorders.

What to do: Reach out to your doctor if your eyelid spasms are persistent and come with other things like face or whole-body spasms, vision changes, or eyelid swelling. They can check you for a neurological disorder, and treat you with things like oral medications, Botox, or in certain cases, surgery.

9. You have a hemifacial spasm (aka, a neuromuscular issue)

This is also rare, but eye twitching can be the first sign of a neuromuscular issue called hemifacial spasm—where you get spasms on one side of your face. This condition can cause your eyes to close, or your mouth to be pulled off to one side. Most often, it's caused by a facial injury or tumor, or blood vessels pressing against major nerves in the face, per the Cleveland Clinic.

What to do: If your face and eyelids are consistently twitching or getting worse, go to your doctor. They can figure out what's causing it, and offer treatments like oral medication, Botox, or surgery, like with neurological issues.

How to treat a twitching eye in a pinch

In most cases, eye twitching will go away on its own after a while, especially if it's caused by stress or caffeine. In the meantime, there are some home remedies for eye twitches you can try, to help stop them right away. This can include the following, per Dr. Graham:

  • Applying a warm compress to your twitching eye
  • Gently massaging your eyelid with your fingers
  • Taking a break from looking at screens
  • Closing your eyes for a bit
  • Applying a few drops of artificial tears to your eye if it's dry

When to see a doctor

Most of the time, a twitching eye here and there is harmless and doesn't require a trip to the doctor. It usually means you need to catch up on sleep, give your eyes a rest, or cut back on caffeine. But if your eye twitching is accompanied by other symptoms—like redness, pus, or crusty buildup around your eyelid—you may have an infection like pink eye that requires medicated drops from the doctor.

Very rarely, chronic eye twitching can be an early signal of a serious neurological disorder like Tourette syndrome or MS. If this is the case, you'll likely have other symptoms, too, like cognitive, movement, or speech dysfunction, per the Mayo Clinic. Your doctor can help rule this out with tests like MRIs and CT scans.

Ultimately, the majority of eye twitching cases are benign (so try not to freak out!). Dr. Graham says if your eye twitching is persistent and you suspect you could have an infection or another issue, reach out to your doctor as soon as possible.


What deficiency does a twitching eye mean?

While some people think that vitamin and mineral deficiencies lead to twitching eyelids, this is rarely the case. Some common deficiencies people think lead to eye spasms include the following:

  • Magnesium: This deficiency may cause muscle twitching, per the Cleveland Clinic, but little evidence shows a link to eyelid twitching. Magnesium deficiency is rare in healthy people, but usually causes fatigue, nausea, and weakness.
  • B-12: It can cause anemia, but no evidence shows a connection to eyelid twitching. Instead, you'll feel numbness/tingling in hands and feet, muscle weakness, fatigue, or shortness of breath, per the Mayo Clinic.
  • Potassium: There's no link between potassium deficiency and eyelid twitches. And while potassium is sometimes a suggested eyelid-twitching treatment, there's little evidence it stops them completely, per the National Library of Medicine.
  • Vitamin D: People who are severely deficient in vitamin D may get muscle twitches, per StatPearls, but there's little evidence to show it causes eyelid twitches in particular. Vitamin D deficiency symptoms are subtle, but may include fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness, or depression, per the Cleveland Clinic.

Can an eye twitch last for months?

Yes. Depending on the cause, eye twitching can last weeks or months on end. While under-eye twitching for a few days is usually just lack of sleep or stress, eye twitching for weeks could mean you have something like blepharitis, or a neurological issue. If it keeps up, and comes with other concerning symptoms, let your doctor know.

Do brain tumors cause eye twitching?

In some cases, yes. A brain tumor located in your occipital lobe, temporal lobe, or brain stem can lead to eye twitching, along with vision changes like blurred or double vision, per the Moffitt Cancer Center. These changes can happen over time or all of a sudden, depending on the severity and placement of the tumor. Keep in mind, though, brain tumors are rare, and will often come with other signs like cognitive, movement, or speech changes.

If you're unsure about your risk, talk to your doctor. They can offer guidance and recommend scans like MRIs to rule out cancer.

—reviewed by Jennifer Gilbert, MD, MPH 

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