Eye Twitch: Is it dangerous?

Eye twitch is a common condition, which has probably affected every one of us at some point. It occurs when the muscles and nerves in and around the eye become stimulated, and so we feel a twitch. It most often involves just upper or lower lid, but only one eye at a time.  Sometimes, it is only you who notices the eye twitch, and sometimes, it can be quite noticeable to others.  

If you have ever worried that the eye twitch is dangerous and can signal a serious health problem, relax. Most often it is completely harmless, though annoying. Twitching usually occurs every few seconds for a minute or two and goes away on its own. It is painless and not dangerous, but may recur over a few hours, days or even weeks. However, in order to prevent its almost all of a sudden onset from occurring, it is important to learn what causes it.  

Below are several core factors, which can provoke eye twitch or make it worse: 

  • Stress. Our bodies react to stress in different ways and an eye twitch can be a sign that you’re undergoing a stress or are under pressure. Stress-induced eye twitches are the most annoying and nerve-racking because they often occur during important events or critical moments. So, all you can do is to stop thinking about your eye twitching at the moment, as it will only add to the pressure. 
  • Fatigue. If you have disturbed sleep or aren’t getting enough of it, this can contribute to daytime fatigue and cause eye twitch as well. Therefore, it may be wise to reconsider your sleep schedule if you have experienced a lack of sleep that is accompanied by frequent eye twitch.  
  • Caffeine. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that temporarily increases brain activity by triggering the brain to release serotonin and noradrenaline. These excitable chemicals can induce nerves to cause eyelid spasm. Moreover, increased caffeine intake often goes hand in hand with stress and fatigue, both of which are involved in sudden eye twitch. Try to stop or at least cut back on caffeinated drinks to speed up eye twitching disappearance. 
  • Eye strain. Even minor vision problems can make eyes work too hard, triggering vision-related stress and consequently twitching.  Eye strain from computer overuse, reading in a bad light or need for glasses can all cause eye twitch. So, try exercises for computer eye strain relief, such as looking away from the screen every 20 minutes and allowing your eyes to focus on a distant object for 20 seconds. Also, have your vision checked at eye care practitioner to see if you need eyeglass prescription. 
  • Dry eyes. When eyes are dry, we involuntary start blinking more often to moisturize them. After a while, this frequent blinking triggers the nerves and tricks the brain into making the eye twitch more. Therefore, if your eyes feel dry and gritty, check with your doctor. Eye drops for restoring moisture to the eyes may help stop the spasm and bring eye twitch to naught in the future. 
  • Allergy. Allergic people often have dry, watery or itchy eyes. When eyes are rubbed, histamine is released into the tears and lid tissues, which triggers eye twitching. Antihistamines may help in this case. However, check with your eye care practitioner before use, because antihistamine eye drops can make your eyes dry. 
  • Alcohol. Similar to caffeine, excessive alcohol use triggers the release of feel-good chemicals that stimulate the nervous system. As they innervate facial nerves or, in other words, excite the peripheral nerves that supply the muscle that closes the eyelid, eye spasm occurs. The remedy is abstaining from alcohol to see if the condition improves.  

While eye twitch alone is rarely a sign of serious neurological disorder, it is important to have it evaluated if it persists for longer than a week.