Random muscle spasms have got to be one of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world. Suddenly, you feel a twitch in your body, the motion unbidden, involuntary. The experience is altogether disconcerting, and it can be especially troublesome when it’s your eyelid. Sight is so core to most of our identities; the idea that our eyes would shut or twitch unbidden is a bit disturbing. Of course, our eyes shut unbidden without us realizing all the time; in fact, take a moment right now to take a nice conscious blink.

Didn’t that feel nice?

Stress

The leading cause of eye twitching is probably stress; it’s not entirely well known why stress causes your eye to twitch, though it may be a temporary glitch in some of your nervous system cells. Should you suspect that stress is the cause of your eye twitching, try relieving it through a variety of methods; yoga, breathing exercises, a night to yourself – whatever you need.

Fatigue (and it’s opposite)

Not sleeping enough can also cause eye twitching, so if you haven’t been getting enough Zs, try to get to bed earlier, or maybe take an afternoon nap. Coffee is probably the most commonly used drug here in Winnipeg; it gets us through the cold, dark winters, even when we haven’t had enough sleep. Coffee causes eye twitches too, so lack of sleep + a high dose of caffeine is a surefire way to get your eyes twitching. Try to lay off the coffee if twitching has become a problem.

Allergies and Dry Eye

Your eyelids might be hyperactive if you’ve been experiencing a lot of dry eye, or if you’ve got swollen and watery eyes from your allergies. This one is a bit more difficult to deal with solely using lifestyle changes; we’d tell you to avoid the allergens, but it’s often not so easy. Medication is key here; get medicated eye drops for your dry eye, and use antihistamines for those allergies. Dry eye over a long period of time is a medical condition for which there are a few treatments; have an eye exam done and we can find the appropriate medications and lifestyle changes to reduce your dry eye.

Substance Use

Alcohol can cause your eyelids to twitch; so can a variety of stimulants. When you’re using drugs or alcohol, and you notice eyelid twitching, it may be a sign you should ease up or abstain.

More Serious Problems

While eye twitching is mostly benign, it can rarely be a sign of underlying neurological conditions. Eye twitching might be a sign of Tourette’s, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s. These problems are fairly uncommon, but if you’ve experienced eye twitching for weeks, or you feel twitching in other parts of your body, it could be a sign of more serious problems.

One final aside, eyelid twitching is known as blepharospasm in the medical world. Blepharo means eyelid, and spasm we’re pretty sure you understand. That word is a little unwieldy, so eyelid twitch is fine to use!