Eye twitching is one of the lesser-known nuances experienced during pregnancy, although it is quite common. The twitching is the result of a repetitive spasm of the muscle in the eyelid, which is uncontrollable.
While the condition can be uncomfortable and irritating, it is not serious and is unlikely to result in any vision loss or other health conditions. It is, however, recommended to mention any regular eye twitching to a doctor as it could be a sign of an underlying health problem.
There are a number of different causes of eye twitching. Common causes of eye twitching in pregnancy include:
- Lack of sleep
- Dry eye syndrome
- Eye strain
- Nutritional deficiencies
Reasons and Remedies for Eye Twitching During Pregnancy
Stress is the most common cause of eye twitching in pregnancy. Physical and emotional changes during pregnancy bring about a lot of stress to the pregnant mother. The concern about their own health, the health of the baby, how they will cope once the baby arrives – all contribute to increased stress levels.
Music, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and other natural therapies that are safe during pregnancy and promote relaxation and calmness are highly recommended.
Medications to alleviate stress and anxiety are generally avoided during pregnancy. However, if stress levels are significant, it is crucial to speak to a medical practitioner or consult with a therapist to find the best solution to reduce stress.
2. Lack of Sleep
Being pregnant generally means having difficulty finding a comfortable position to sleep in during the night, and enduring endless trips to the bathroom. Lack of sleep can lead to fatigue and exhaustion. If you are feeling tired, then you are more likely to experience eye twitching as well.
Use pillows designed to provide additional comfort during pregnancy. Bolster pillows, noodle pillows, and other specially crafted cushions offer support to certain areas of the body, providing greater comfort.
Relaxation activities, such as meditation and yoga, can assist with improving sleep. A nighttime routine, including dimming the lights, reducing noise levels, and avoiding stimulating activities, can also help.
Avoid foods and beverages that could hinder sleep. Make sure to consult a doctor for cases of extreme lack of sleep.
3. Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eyes result from a lack of lubrication from tears produced by the tear ducts. When the eyes are not getting enough moisture, as what happens while reading a book or staring at a computer, the eyes become dry and they spasm. Moreover, dryness in the eyes can be increased by dehydration from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
Pregnancy, by itself, already affects the physiology of tears that may lead to the condition of dry eye. It can be attributed to increased immune reaction in the lacrimal duct cells and the direct destruction of acinar cells in the eye by prolactin, transforming growth factor beta-1 and epidermal growth factor (Yenerel & Küçümen, 2015).
Dry eye syndrome can be prevented by drinking lots of water (especially if a pregnant mother has nausea and vomiting). Massaging the eyelids while keeping them closed can also encourage tear production in the eyes.
Sterile water and pure rose water can be combined into a natural face mist. Pour into a spray bottle and mist the face whenever the eyes feel dry.
Consult with a healthcare provider the best eye drops to use to alleviate dry eyes. Artificial tears can help lubricate the eyes and keep them moisturized.
4. Eye Strain
Extended exposure to bright lights and computer screens (plus tablets and smartphones) can cause eye strain and result in twitching. Overuse of the eyes and glare from digital devices increase the spasms.
Irritants in the air can enter the eye, resulting in excessive production of tears to flush the irritation out. Inflammation or redness, which puts additional strain on the eye, also results in twitching.
Limit screen time. If working on the computer can’t be helped, at least take regular breaks from the screen. Remember also to blink often to keep the eyes moisturized.
It is recommended to visit an optometrist to check for vision defects or eye conditions that may be placing additional strain on the eye. Wear sunshades when outdoors during the day and place a filter over bright screens that could be straining the eye.
5. Nutritional Deficiencies
Mineral deficiencies, most important of which are magnesium and potassium, may cause the problem of eye twitching. Magnesium helps control a number of the body’s biochemical reactions, which include muscle contractions. Potassium, on the other hand, is needed for optimal nerve impulse transmission.
Bananas are a good source of potassium and zinc, and can be helpful in treating eye twitching. Taking prenatal vitamins and eating a balanced diet ensure sufficient quantities of essential minerals for pregnant moms.
Drinking caffeine in moderation during pregnancy is acceptable. However, drinking too much can cause eye twitching.
Caffeine is present in coffee, energy drinks, soda, tea, and chocolates. It is a nervous system stimulant that causes muscle spasms throughout the body, including eye twitching.
Cut down on ingestion of caffeine. Replace caffeinated drinks with water gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms of headache and irritability.
When to See a Doctor Immediately
The following are signs of possible underlying pathology of eye twitching, hence should be consulted to a doctor immediately:
- Continued eye twitching for one week
- Eye twitching that closes the eyelid completely
- Other parts of the face also twitch
- Drooping of the upper eyelid
- Blurred vision or photosensitivity (extreme sensitivity to light)
- Painful eye twitching
- Increased frequency and intensity of eye twitching
- Presence of fever
Eye twitching during pregnancy is most commonly sporadic and does not indicate a serious pathology. It is, however, highly recommended to consult a medical practitioner when eye twitching becomes regular and accompanied by other symptoms to detect any underlying medical condition.
- Yenerel, N., & Küçümen, R. (2015). Pregnancy and the eye. Turkish Journal of Ophthalmology 45(5), 213-219. doi: 10.4274/tjo.43815