Eye twitching is when a person’s eye involuntarily moves. Muscle spasms around the eye usually cause eye twitching, and it often occurs at the same time as headaches. Muscle spasms can have many causes. They are typically harmless but can be bothersome.

Some people suggest that there may be a link between eye twitching and headaches. Many things can cause eye twitching and headaches, and not all are serious. But sometimes, there is cause for concern.

This article looks at the connection between eye twitching and headaches, other causes of eye twitching, and when to seek medical advice.

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Sometimes, eye twitching may happen at the same time as headaches. Eye twitching may cause headaches, just as headaches may cause eye twitching.

Migraine

A migraine is a neurological disease that can cause immense head pain, among other symptoms. According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine is a condition that impacts 39 million people in the United States.

Symptoms may include:

  • visual disturbances
  • sensitivity to light and sound
  • nausea or vomiting
  • intense head pain

Symptoms involving the eyes may not always occur, but according to a small 2012 study, facial spasms known as hemifacial spasms (HFS) can be a possible complication of migraine.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches are a kind of headache that 2008 research linked with eye twitching.

Cluster headaches derive their name from the fact that they usually occur in clusters. As well as intense pain, people may also experience symptoms involving the autonomic nervous system with cluster headaches.

People with cluster headaches may experience symptoms including:

  • runny nose
  • drooping eyelid
  • swelling around the eyes

It may be that a person’s headaches are unconnected to their eye twitching, but that they both occur due to the same trigger. Headaches do not always cause eye twitching, nor the other way around, but they may both occur at the same time as a response to a shared trigger.

Some of the triggers for both eye twitching and headaches include:

Fatigue

Frequently, when a person is overly tired (or fatigued), they may find that they experience eye twitches or headaches, or a combination of the two.

Stress or anxiety

Stress, anxiety, and depression can also trigger both headaches and eye twitching. If a person experiences either of those symptoms, they may wish to take steps to lower their stress levels to decrease the impact stress can have on their health.

Caffeine

Consuming excessive amounts of caffeine may also cause both headaches and eye twitching. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), drinking too much caffeine (around 4–5 cups of coffee per day) can cause headaches and jitters.

The FDA also states that cutting down on caffeine too quickly can cause withdrawal symptoms. If a person wants to cut down on caffeine due to unwanted symptoms, they should discuss it with their healthcare professional to avoid any new symptoms.

Eye twitches will usually be temporary unless an underlying condition causes them. Eye twitching can be brief, lasting a few seconds. Or it can happen as often as a few times a minute or even as rarely as one-off occurrences.

Eye twitching may also be a sign of other conditions.

  • HFS
  • benign essential blepharospasm
  • Meige syndrome
  • nystagmus

Hemifacial spasm (HFS)

HFS is a neuromuscular condition in which one side of a person’s face may spasm, twitch, or otherwise move. It usually starts around the eye area but can spread to include muscles in the lower region of the face.

There may be a connection between HFS and migraine, but other times HFS is because of injuries to a nerve in the face or blood vessels applying pressure to the nerves.

Benign essential blepharospasm (BEB)

BEB is a rare neurological condition whereby the muscles around the eye involuntarily contract and spasm.

According to the National Eye Institute, BEB occurs when the part of the brain responsible for controlling eyelid muscles begins to malfunction.

Meige syndrome

Meige syndrome is a condition where all the muscles of the face, including the tongue and jaw, spasm.

Meige is a type of neurological condition known as dystonia, characterized by the involuntary spasm of muscles.

Nystagmus

When a person’s eyes move quickly and uncontrollably, experts call this nystagmus. This can cause a person to feel as though their eye is twitching, when it is actually the eyes themselves moving that is causing the sensation.

Unlike eye twitching, which often occurs in one eye, nystagmus usually occurs in both eyes.

Less common causes

Dry eyes may also cause eye twitching. Treating the dry eye with eye drops or similar lubricating medication may cause the twitching to stop.

Rarely, eye twitching may instead be due to an underlying brain or nervous system condition, such as:

  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Bell’s palsy
  • multiple sclerosis
  • spastic-paretic facial contracture

If a person notices that their eye twitching appears alongside any other involuntary movements in other parts of the body, they should speak with a healthcare professional to rule out any of the above.

Twitching eyes will usually resolve themselves without treatment.

If a person experiences eye twitching accompanied by a headache lasting longer than a few weeks, they should make an appointment with their healthcare professional. This way, they can rule out anything serious.

People should also contact their healthcare professional if:

  • the twitching is elsewhere in the body or face as well
  • the eye completely closes when it twitches
  • there is discharge coming from the eye
  • the eye is swollen, red, or inflamed
  • the eyelid is drooping

Healthcare professionals may ask a variety of questions such as those relating to lifestyle, the onset of the symptoms, and if anything appears to trigger the symptoms.

Doctors may want to discuss options such as Botox for eye twitching. A doctor may also suggest Botox if a person experiences migraine. If an underlying condition causes the eye twitching, treating that condition may cause the twitching to stop.

Eye twitching may occur at the same time as headaches. Headaches may cause eye twitching, and eye twitching may cause headaches, but sometimes the two may be entirely unrelated.

It could also be that the triggers causing a person to experience headaches may also be causing them to experience eye twitching.

Healthcare professionals will be able to diagnose anything serious if eye twitching persists, and can rule out underlying conditions.

It is important to seek medical advice if a person experiences eye twitching along with headaches for longer than a week, or if they have any other symptoms.