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February 8, 2007 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Help me and my twitchy eye. Why won't my eye spasm go away? What can be done about it and why is it worse when I am working out?

I've had an intense eye spasm (upper eyelid of left eye) going on for about 6 months. It happens at least every other day, sometimes multiple times a day. At first I thought I was just overtired and it would go away, but it obviously isn't. In fact, it is getting worse and I've noticed that it always happens (multiple times) while I am working out (though it happens at other, random times as well).

I've done some googling for "eye twitch" and most of the results deal with blepharospasm, but I don't think that is it as blepharospasm seems to involve lots of blinking, and this is more like an intense electrical current that lasts for 15 seconds or so. For the next couple hours afterwards, my eyelid feels strange. I can't quite describe it. There is no pain, it just feels . . . strange.

I'm concerned that this is going to get worse and lead to a droopy eyelid or something. I'm also concerned that it'll get worse/more constant. On the shallow side of things, I am concerned that it is annoying to look at and I'll become "that girl with the annoying eye twitch." I know the obvious answer is "go see a doctor," and that is part of my question. What kind of doctor should I see? An eye doctor? A neurologist?

Has anyone else experienced this? If so, can you share your stories? Did it go away? Get worse? Did you get treatment? If so, what kind?
posted by necessitas to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, I experience it often when I am tired and/or stressed out. It can be extremely annoying.

I can't say for certain (not a doctor, etc etc) - but I understand that it's related to dehydration, stress, and low potassium levels. That could also explain why it's happening more when you workout.

You're probably not going to get a droopy eyelid and you might want to see a doctor, but my understanding of this is that it's so common that you actually don't need to. When it starts happening to me, I do the following:

- Choke down a giant bottle of water
- Eat a banana or two (for potassium)
- Take a hot bath while listening to relaxing music
- Get a nice, long night's sleep

That usually tides me over until the next episode.
posted by pazazygeek at 1:06 PM on February 8, 2007

I've experienced it, and it goes away. I had it for about a month straight. The general consensus that I've encountered (based on anecdotal evidence) is that it's harmless and always goes away.

This is more of a question for a doctor, though.
posted by cellphone at 1:11 PM on February 8, 2007

This happens to me when i've been (consistently) drinking more caffeine than normal, where normal is one 8 oz cup of coffee per day. I find that cutting back on caffeine and getting more sleep generally disappears the problem.
posted by casconed at 1:14 PM on February 8, 2007

This happened to me during the end of my senior year - I was stressed, sleepless, and pretty dehydrated. Try pazazygeek's suggestions and start taking a multivitamin. However, every other day for 6 months sounds pretty serious to me, especially if you've never experienced it before. I would probably be sick enough of it to see a doctor by now. Go to a general practitioner - he'll be able to recommend a neurosurgeon.
posted by muddgirl at 1:19 PM on February 8, 2007

Previously. It's incredibly common, and is usually caused by stress and tiredness. Like they said.
posted by hot soup girl at 2:00 PM on February 8, 2007

Agreed - if it's that frequent, worth talking to a doctor, who will be able to steer you toward the right specialist.

Anecdotally, this happens to both me and my dad when drinking caffeine. He eventually switched completely to decaf because the twitch was so bad (he had been a many-cups-a-day man), and cutting out caffeine has really cleared it up for him.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:04 PM on February 8, 2007

If you Google ' low thyroid eye twitch' you will find many accounts of people with thyroid problems who experience this; a fair number of them seem to believe too much thyroid medication was at the root; others ended up with a diagnosis of Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which can involve drastic swings of thyroid hormone levels, or Grave's disease.

Since several Answerers thought you might have thyroid problems from a previous question, it might not be amiss to look into that.
posted by jamjam at 2:07 PM on February 8, 2007

It may have something to do with your thyroid...I had those spasms a lot before going on medication for hypothyroidism. I agree with those urging you to see a doctor.
posted by frosty_hut at 2:08 PM on February 8, 2007

Thanks for your answers so far. Initially, I thought it was stress and/or tiredness. However, throughout the past 6 months, I've gone through periods of well-restedness (is that a word?) and periods of insomnia, but the twitch has been pretty much the same either way. Same for stress.

I don't drink much caffeine, maybe a diet coke or two a week. I will try eating bananas, I probably don't get enough potassium in my diet.

I am really interested in the thyroid-related answers. I never considered that to be a possibility. At the urging of people who answered my hair-loss question a couple years ago, I did get my blood work done and did have low thyroid. I'm on synthroid but perhaps I need my dose changed. I'll make an appointment to see my doctor and ask about that. It is so interesting how seemingly unrelated symptoms can be related to the same disorders.
posted by necessitas at 2:55 PM on February 8, 2007

Do you wear glasses or contacts? I notice that my eyelid starts to twitch when I need to get a perscription change. I chalk it up to eyestrain.
posted by blueskiesinside at 3:01 PM on February 8, 2007

I should wear glasses for distance, but I seldom do wear them because I need a stronger perscription and I don't need to wear them often enough to justify (in my mind) the expense. I guess I should look into that, though.
posted by necessitas at 3:52 PM on February 8, 2007

Mine went away when I stopped caffeine
posted by Raybun at 6:42 PM on February 8, 2007

My grandmother used to say "If your eye twitches, it means they're thinking about you. If your ear twitches, they're talking about you. If your lip twitches, it means that they are lying. " I like to think that if your hand twitches, they're working it thinking of you. Could be just an old superstition, but it seems to support the stress angle.
posted by Area Control at 6:45 PM on February 8, 2007

Do you work at a computer for several hours a day? If so, dive into the settings for the screen, and see what the refresh rate for your monitor is set to. If it's lower than about 70 Hz, see if you can change the settings to get it to something higher than 70 Hz. (You may need to decrease your screen resolution or play with other settings.) I find if I sit at a computer with a low refresh rate (less than 70 Hz) for more than a few hours, I start developing an eye twitch that doesn't go away for several days.
posted by jferg at 7:46 PM on February 8, 2007

Since your symptoms have persisted for so long and it is obviously causing you some distress and concern, why not consult a neurologist to rule out a focal dystonia. You may have an atypical form of bletharospasm.
posted by dudiggy at 9:54 PM on February 8, 2007

Sounds like fasciculations. A neurologist would be the right kind of doctor to look at this.
posted by lunchbox at 10:48 PM on February 8, 2007

One of my eyes has really bad vision and I find that the upper eyelid twitches when I spend too much time on the computer (straining).
posted by koshka at 11:42 AM on February 9, 2007

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