Should You Be Worried About Those “Eye Twitches”?

| Mar 11, 2016

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Have you ever experienced those strange eye twitches that seem to come out of nowhere? They feel like a light flutter of wings against your eyelid, usually in one eye at a time. Given that these tics, called myokymia, are common occurrences, chances are that your answer is yes.

Maybe you were immediately concerned that something was wrong with you. Maybe you found it merely distracting, or were too busy to worry about it. Maybe you even Googled eye twitches and were presented with page after page of frightening diagnosis possibilities (there’s nothing like WebMD or similar websites to turn you into a hypochondriac).

Usually, it’s uncertainty about a strange health experience that’s scariest or most bothersome. But there’s a simple way to dispel health concerns: educate yourself, and then take necessary action.

To that end, let’s dive into a discussion of myokymia, what causes it, and what you can do to alleviate those annoying twitches.

Here’s the good news…

First and foremost, it’s important to know that, in all likelihood, your eye twitches are a minor and harmless symptom of excess stress (we’ll get into the connection between the two a bit later).

Use your intuition, of course—if you can’t stop worrying about it, see an eye doctor. Eye twitching can be a symptom of a couple more serious neurological conditions, but these ailments are characterized by near continuous twitching in both eyes (blepharospasm) or twitching of all the muscles in one side of the face (hemifacial spasm).

These tics can also be an early sign of other neurological disorders like Bell’s palsy, dystonia, Parkinson’s, and Tourette syndrome. All of these diagnoses are highly unlikely, though, so don’t stress about it.

For the majority of people, eye twitches are simply a byproduct of fast-paced living and less than ideal lifestyle choices. As such, all it takes to make them go away is some simple lifestyle changes.

Are You Stressed Out?

If you do find yourself having eye twitches, ask yourself the following questions…

Am I stressed out? Given the nature of the society in which we live, the answer to this question will be yes for the vast majority of people. It probably feels like you never have enough time for everything, and that the only solution is to keep moving—but for exactly this reason, it’s essential to take time for de-stressing. Acetylcholine, cortisol, and the other chemicals associated with stress can cause “muscle arousal,” which can easily lead to involuntary twitching.

How to fix it: Spend some time outdoors, read your favorite book, or simply set aside for some other activity that feeds your soul. Meditation practice also helps immensely (it’s clinically proven to be one of the fastest and most effective ways to relieve stress). If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, cut down on your caffeine consumption[1] (substitute with something like raw cacao, which energizes you without taxing your body).

Am I getting enough sleep? Sleep is one of the most vitally important prerequisites for optimal health—and hardly anyone gets enough of it. Contrary to the claims of many “sleep hackers,” no conclusive study has ever shown that less than seven hours of sleep per night is sustainable. Most experts agree that getting eight to nine hours every night is ideal.

How to fix it: This is one problem with a simple solution. Just sleep more! It certainly can be difficult to make the time for it, but you’ll be amazed by the benefits it provides for your health (getting rid of eye twitches is just the tip of the iceberg). When extending your sleep period, go to bed earlier rather than getting up later; studies suggest that turning in early is more likely to provide health benefits.[2]

==> Discover The Sleep “Trick” That Fights The Root-Cause
Of Insomnia 

Am I spending too much time in front of the computer? Even if you don’t work an office or computer-related job, you probably still spend a good amount of time staring at a screen of some kind (you’re reading this article on a screen right now, aren’t you?) Researchers have discovered that working in front of screens, or in rooms lit by fluorescent light, can cause eye strain, dryness, and irritation (especially for those working for seven hours or more).[3]

How to fix it: If you simply can’t avoid spending multiple hours a day in front of screens (it’s a necessity for a lot of jobs these days), at least try to look away from your screen for a few moments every twenty minutes. This simple action lets your eyes relax by softly focusing on a distant point. If possible, work with incandescent or warm LED lights instead of fluorescent lights.

Eye drops can be helpful for dryness and irritation, but be sure to avoid any with preservatives or chemical anti-redness ingredients, both of which can cause eye damage over time. Natural, “homeopathic” brands of eye drops are always a good choice.

Am I eating and supplementing properly? A number of nutrient imbalances and deficiencies can lead to eye problems like myokymia. A deficiency in magnesium, selenium, and other minerals can easily cause muscle spasms (which is actually what’s happening when your eye twitches). B12 and essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiencies can also be an issue, especially for vegetarians. And above all, dehydration can very easily cause imbalances throughout your body—and your eyes are no exception.

How to fix it: It can be difficult to get enough minerals from food, as much of the food we consume today is mineral-depleted. So if you think you may be mineral-deficient (and at least 80% of Americans are), try supplementing. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy are all good sources of B12 and EFA’s (try flax and hemp seeds if you’re vegetarian or vegan, in which case you should also consider supplementing).

Instead of worrying about (or ignoring) health quirks like eye twitches, take the opportunity to make the lifestyle changes that will benefit every aspect of your life. Your eyes (and the rest of your body) will thank you!

 


References

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12456842

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rosie-osmun/go-to-bed-early_b_7157026.html

[3] http://www.writingandwellness.com/2014/09/02/what-your-computer-is-doing-to-your-eyes/

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