Eye twitches can be distracting and annoying, lasting a few seconds or minutes at a time. While these involuntary spasms aren’t typically noticeable to others, they can interfere with your daily routine and ability to concentrate.
The good news is that eye twitches usually aren’t a sign of anything serious. Since these spasms tend to happen randomly and inconsistently, the exact cause of eye twitching (also known as blepharospasm) can be hard to determine. However, there may be certain triggers in your diet and lifestyle that are causing your eyelids to flutter. Emotions can even play a role, with some people only experiencing eye twitches when they feel sad or anxious.
Here are the most common underlying causes of eye twitching, and natural remedies to help resolve these spasms naturally.
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Common Causes of Eye Twitching
- Eye strain from staring at computer screens
- Chronic stress
- Nervous system disorders, such as anxiety
- Lack of sleep
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Light sensitivity
- Air pollution
- Side effects of OTC medications
- Eyelid inflammation (can be caused by chemicals in cosmetics, body care products or other irritants)
When is Eye Twitching Serious?
In serious cases, eye twitching can be an early sign of an underlying neurological disorder, or neuromuscular disorder such as Tourette’s syndrome. H—however, these conditions are typically accompanied by other symptoms such as facial spasms, shaking and tremors (1).
Although it’s not common, frequent eye twitching (lasting months at a time) can result in a condition called benign essential blepharospasm (2). Benign essential blepharospasm usually affects both eyes, and may also be seen with other involuntary muscular disorders, such as uncontrolled blinking and spasms in other areas of the body.
5 Natural Remedies for Eye Twitching
So, where do you begin with getting rid of the pesky twitching?
Start with reducing eye strain (for example, taking mandatory short breaks if you spend several hours on the computer each day), and improving your sleep quality—perhaps build a DIY sleep sanctuary? In addition, there are several other natural remedies you can try to resolve eye twitching naturally.
1. Increase the Electrolytes in Your Diet
Nutrient deficiencies could be contributing to eye twitches, especially electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. These nutrients regulate proper muscle function and may help reduce spasms, as eye twitching happens in the small nerves and muscles around your eyes.
You can increase the electrolytes in your diet by drinking coconut water and adding spinach, avocado, banana, nuts, seeds and a wide variety of other fresh fruit and vegetables to your diet.
If you avoid sodium in your diet and experience eye twitches, you may want to begin adding small amounts of pure sea salt to your meals and eating foods that naturally contain sodium, such as tomatoes, salted nuts and seaweed, such as kombu and nori.
A routine blood test can also rule out nutrient deficiencies as a cause of eye twitches.
2. Yoga and Meditation
It’s not uncommon to experience eye twitches (or other seemingly random, involuntary muscle twitches) when you’re nervous or stressed. In fact, stress is one of the most common triggers for eye twitching, as spasms are linked to nerves at the base of the brain within the nervous system.
Prioritizing stress management with techniques such as yoga and meditation (and even going for a deep tissue massage) will help calm your nerves, which may reduce the frequency and severity of eye twitching. Studies have shown practicing yoga to be effective for reducing the symptoms of stress-related disorders (such as anxiety, depression and even epilepsy), which suggests it may also be effective for regulating nerve impulses related to muscle spasms (3).
3. Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
Another important nutrient for eye health are omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are healthy fats found in wild fish, nuts, seeds, algae and grass-fed meats. Our brain and eye tissues are comprised of omega-3’s, and studies show these healthy fats are necessary for healthy vision (4). While there’s little research to show the link between omega-3’s and eye twitching, these essential fats are required for general optimal eye function, which may help reduce involuntary spasms.
Unfortunately, in today’s Western diet, it’s common to consume fewer omega-3’s. Instead, we overconsume omega-6 essential fatty acids from vegetable oils in deep fried foods, fast foods and processed foods, which contribute to systemic inflammation when consumed in excess (5). On the other hand, omega-3 essential fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatories, and reduce systemic inflammation.
In fact, studies show our ratio of omega-6’s to 3’s today is approximately 25:1—which indicates an alarmingly high ratio of pro-inflammatory foods (in comparison, that ratio should be closer to 2:1) (6). Since omega-3 essential fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatories, we could all do with increasing the amount of omega-3’s in our diets not only for eye health, but for optimal health.
The best food sources of omega-3’s are wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, chia seeds, hemp hearts, flaxseed, walnuts and algae, such as chlorella or spirulina. You can also take fish oil to easily boost the omega-3’s in your diet.
Acupuncture, practiced widely in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), involves pricking the skin at strategic points and meridians to help rebalance the flow of energy throughout your body, which can help improve certain ailments and disorders (from skin conditions to infertility). Acupuncture is also said to be effective for muscle pain and spasms, including eye twitches.
Acupuncture is practiced by alternative healthcare practitioners, such as Naturopathic doctors and Doctors of Chinese Medicine, and offered at most integrative health centers across North America.
5. Keep a Symptom Journal
Although it may seem confusing at first, it’s not impossible to pinpoint your personal triggers for eye twitching. You can start connecting the dots by keeping a symptom journal. In your symptom journal, it’s helpful to track when eye twitching occurs, along with:
– Hours of sleep
– Hours worked
– Hours spent in front of a computer
– Rate stress levels on a scale of 1-5 (make note of stressful events)
– Track food, caffeine and alcohol consumption
While it may seem efficient enough to take mental notes in your head, seeing your daily routine on paper can paint a clearer picture of the amount of nutrients, sleep and stress relief present in your lifestyle, all of which may be contributing to your symptoms. A symptom diary may also help you identify whether caffeine, stress or eye strain is the culprit in eye twitching, which may be when you decide to introduce yoga or meditation into your lifestyle or reduce your caffeine consumption.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, with a combination of the right nutrients, stress support and complementary therapies such as acupuncture and massage, it’s possible to get rid of eye twitching naturally. If symptoms persist longer than a few weeks, it’s always a good idea to speak with a licensed healthcare practitioner for individualized recommendations, as the causes (and solutions) for eye twitching will be different for each person.