But more commonly, it is stress, lack of sleep or excessive caffeine intake that brings on eyelid twitching, the experts said. Dry eye, a common affliction among those who stare at screens most of the day, is another culprit. Studies have indicated that we blink less when looking at digital devices, which makes our eyes feel dry.
There is no quick fix for an eyelid twitch once it starts, Dr. Lorch said. But artificial tears, eyedrops that lubricate the eye, can help. Ideally, choose ones that are preservative-free, because chemical preservatives can sometimes be irritating. You can also try massaging your eyes in the shower or covering your eyes with a damp, warm washcloth right before bed, she added, which will help relax your eye muscles and open the glands on the margins of the eyelids. This increases oil flow into the eyes and slows down tear evaporation.
Other preventive measures include getting more rest and reducing stress.
“Twitching is a signal by your body asking you to slow down,” said Dr. Raj Maturi, a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Decreasing caffeine intake can also help prevent eye twitching, because large amounts of caffeine can lead to muscle tension. Having one or two cups of coffee each day should be fine, Dr. Lorch said.
It’s also important to stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet that includes foods high in potassium (potatoes, bananas and lentils are great sources), magnesium (found in leafy green vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and fish) and calcium (try dairy , sardines, dark leafy greens or fortified breakfast cereals), since imbalances in these minerals may lead to twitching.
Tonic water is sometimes touted as a remedy for eyelid twitching because it contains a small amount of quinine. Quinine, a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat malaria, has also been used off-label to treat nighttime leg cramps, something the FDA says is neither safe nor effective. There is no scientific evidence that tonic water prevents or alleviates eyelid twitching.
Rarely, eye doctors will use Botox to stop the twitching by injecting a small amount into the orbicularis muscle that surrounds the eyelids, but this is done “only in severe cases,” Dr. Erwin said.
Eyelid myokymia usually goes away on its own without medical intervention, the experts said. For most patients, it’s just a matter of resting, taking steps to reduce stress, lubricating the eye and waiting it out.