Eye twitching: when your eye gives you bother

Everybody is familiar with it: a twitching eye. In general, this twitching is harmless and goes away quickly by itself. More about symptoms, the causes and when those affected should go to the doctor.

06.05.2019 Christian Benz 4 minutes

The eyelid is a muscle that we use especially often and usually unconsciously. We open and close our eyelids around 15 times every minute. With every blink, we moisten and clean our eyes. Every now and again, we may experience that our upper eyelids flutter uncontrollably. Such cases are referred to as eyelid twitching. In extremely rare instances, both eyes twitch at the same time. It is also typical for us to be bothered by such eye twitching. Others hardly notice it. Generally speaking, this twitching is harmless. But why do our eyes suddenly start to twitch?

The most common cause of eye twitching: stress

Stress is the most common cause of eyelid twitching. When we find ourselves under pressure, all of our muscles are on alert. This is also true for our eyelid muscles. Nerve impulses are repeatedly sent to the eyelid muscles, meaning that they contract and begin to twitch. As the skin around our eyes is very thin and sensitive, we feel these twitches here especially vividly. How can we prevent eyelid twitching in such situations? Relaxation helps to counter stress. Those who enjoy yoga can relax their overstimulated eyes with special exercises – generally speaking, any sporting activities are beneficial. Meditation can also be helpful. And in cases where you experience extended periods of stress with psychological strain, autogenic training or psychotherapy is also recommendable.

More about relaxation

A further typical cause: tired eyes

How long do you spend sat in front of a screen? Tired eyes can also be a cause of eyelid twitching. This also comes as little surprise in today’s digital world: we often find ourselves sat in front of a screen and thus place our eyes under considerable strain. For example, if we look at a screen intensely our eyelid muscles become very tense. This overexertion triggers eye twitching.

What helps to counter tired eyes?

If you often spend a lot of time in front of a computer, it is important to take breaks. This also holds true for your eyes. For example, make sure to regularly look out of the window. After a long day working, sport or a walk in the fresh air can help. Once you have finished for the day, you should also not spend too much time in front of the television or looking at your smartphone. Getting enough sleep is equally as important.

A massage can also help: simply close your eyes and gently massage your eyelids with your fingers. Your muscles will relax and the twitching will become less. In addition to massages, there are also helpful exercises for combating eye twitching available to those affected. These include rolling your eyes or raising your eyebrows.

Too little magnesium can also trigger eyelid twitching

Just like your biceps, your eyelids are also muscles. If your body has too little magnesium, your eyelids respond just like any other muscle, namely with cramps. Those affected then feel this, for example, as pain in their calf or as a twitching eyelid. When playing sport as well as during pregnancy, the body is reliant on a great deal of magnesium as this substance is important for our body. It stabilises the membranes that surround our nerve cells. A membrane is like a shell. It ensures that not all impulses are passed onto our nerve cells. Should we be deficient in magnesium, the membrane becomes more permeable and the nerve cell is easier to stimulate. It is for this reason that we experience uncontrollable twitching.

What helps to combat a shortage of magnesium?

A magnesium deficiency can be triggered by our diet – especially if it is unbalanced – or a lack of liquid. Medication and the contraceptive pill are also possible causes. A balanced diet therefore helps to tackle a shortage of magnesium. Whole grains, nuts and seeds contain a great deal of magnesium. Cacao, beans and spinach are very helpful.

Alongside these common causes, there are other factors that can trigger eyelid twitching.

Rather rare: high blood pressure as a cause of eye twitching

In cases in which our blood pressure is too high, our arteries trigger the eyelid twitching. They broaden within our body. It can thus very quickly become the case that they come into contact with pulsating veins and nerves. The latter now suddenly send impulses to our eyelid muscles, causing our eye to twitch.

Very rare: eyelid twitching as a sign of serious illness

Eye twitching usually only lasts a few minutes. It can persist for up to several hours – this is no great problem. However, if your eyelids twitch regularly over the course of several days, it is advisable to consult a doctor. In rare cases, eye twitching can relate to a serious illness in the eye, brain or nerves. In such instances, the transmission of signals between your nerves and muscles is impaired.

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