Yup, bodies can be cruel. Just when you’re feeling mega-rough, along comes an eye twitch to make you feel even worse. You were already having a migraine episode, and now you can’t stop your eye from doing a passable impression of a Mexican jumping bean. Great.
But is the migraine actually causing your eye to twitch? Several factors could be causing your peepers to do the can-can across your face, ranging from the easily fixed to more serious conditions that mean you’ll need to see a doc.
Chances are it’s nothing serious. But it’s worth understanding so you can get some peace of mind and get on with relaxing.
Let’s look at some possibilities.
Eye symptoms of migraine
Migraine with visual aura
This is your stereotypical migraine episode, where you see all kinds of special effects darting across the room in front of your eyes.
Those are known as auras, and they affect less than 25 percent of people with migraine. Look out for zigzag lines, blurry vision, and all that fun stuff.
This type causes shapes and flashing lights to shoot across your vision, but it can also cause a temporary loss of vision in one eye, which is a scary experience.
Research suggests that 50 percent of people completely lose the use of one eye for the duration of the migraine episode. Yikes. But don’t worry — it shouldn’t last longer than an hour.
But you might also be confusing migraine with a headache.
Headaches and eye symptoms: It’s complicated
None of those symptoms sounding familiar? In that case, you might have acquired yourself a cluster headache. This is one of the nastiest types of headaches, causing pain behind the eyes that some people describe as “searing, burning, and stabbing.” Yowch.
Cluster headaches can indeed cause a lot of irritation in your eyes.
Twitches may affect only one side of your face (these are known as hemifacial spasms), but people rarely experience this during migraine episodes. Cluster headaches can also cause swelling, watering eyes, and drooping eyelids.
If you have these headaches often, it may be worthwhile to see your doc and get some medications that’ll bust that cluster.
Other symptoms of migraine
Even if you’re not experiencing the jazzy light show or loss of vision, you might still be experiencing migraine with the eye twitches that can accompany it.
You might have:
- really bad head pain
- sensitivity to light and smells
- pain in your face or neck
OK, here’s the good news: Most eye twitches don’t last very long, especially if they’ve been caused by something pretty minor like stress or sensitivity.
In fact, the National Eye Institute says that blepharospasm (a fun word for the less-fun condition where you just can’t persuade your eyes to stop twitching) is pretty rare. Most of the time, it’ll go away on its own. So put on your best chilling tunes and relax.
If what’s going on in your noggin is causing eye symptoms, it’s most likely a cluster headache. These can last from 15 minutes to 3 hours.
Don’t worry about eye twitches. Nothing serious is going on there.
Even if you also have retinal migraine with the vision loss that accompanies it, there’s no need to panic. Eye twitching can happen as a result of a few factors, such as unusual electrical activity on the surface of your brain, inflammation, and changes in your blood vessels. This may lead to temporary wonkiness.
If you experience only temporary eye twitches or they occur alongside a headache or migraine episode, chances are you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Phew!
Those pesky headaches aren’t the only thing that can cause eye twitches. As we’ve seen, a number of factors can give your eyes a hard time and make them jiggle as impatiently as a toddler waiting for the potty.
Here are some things to keep an eye out for (sorry, not sorry).
Plenty of everyday factors can irritate your eyes and the muscles around them, including:
- eyestrain (Take breaks from staring at the computer, OK?)
- stress and anxiety
- driving long distances
- allergies, pollution, or dry eyes
- bright lights
- changes in your vision (You may need glasses or new lenses.)
Medication side effects
Some medications can make you twitchy. Ugh, right?
Fortunately, there’s a simple answer. Switching medications can make it stop within a couple of months, meaning you can take new meds without fear of your eyes twerking.
If you take any of these types of meds and the eye twitches are being a bit extra, you may want to check in with your doc to discuss switching:
- calcium channel blockers
- dopamine agonists
- antipsychotics or neuroleptics
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Underlying health problems
A few other serious health probs can cause eye twitches. You may experience eye twitches if you’re living with any of the following conditions:
Eye twitches are just the cherry on top of the sh*tty cake — when migraine has you feeling rough, eye twitches come along to rub salt in your wounds and make you feel even worse. Migraine doesn’t cause eye twitches, but migraine episodes and eye twitches can have similar triggers, such as stress.
In the vast majority of cases, your eye twitch will be just an annoyance rather than anything serious. Most likely, the cause is the same thing that triggered your migraine episode, and you can safely ignore it. Even if it’s part of migraine symptoms or a cluster headache, it’ll likely fade at the same time your headache does.
Check in with your doctor if you’re experiencing frequent eye twitches, but try not to worry too much. Change into your favorite PJs, relax, and keep your eye on the prize (which, in this case, is the sweet relief at the end of a migraine episode).