Eye Twitching in Pregnancy: Causes and Treatments

Eye twitching in pregnancy? While you were prepared for the nausea, water retention, and cravings,…

Eye twitching in pregnancy? While you were prepared for the nausea, water retention, and cravings, you didn’t sign up for this nuisance. But here it is anyway, and you’re not alone.

With eye twitching, sometimes both the bottom and top lids will spasm. The spasms may even be strong enough to shut your eye.

Usually, this isn’t anything to worry about — even during pregnancy. But sometimes, plain old eye twitching can escalate and persist. In the relatively rare case that this happens, your doctor will call your eye twitching by its medical name — blepharospasm — and may recommend treatment.

Although researchers aren’t completely sure why eye twitching happens, they do know that several parts of the brain, including the basal ganglia, are involved in this simple movement.

There are several possible triggers.

Stress

Pregnancy and stress seem synonymous, right? With all the physical and emotional changes that are happening to your body, it’s not surprising that you’re stressed. This is one of the most common causes of eye twitching, before, during, and after pregnancy.

Tiredness

Bringing a new life into this world takes its toll on your body, and it’s not only the hormonal upheaval that leads to fatigue. As you move toward the finish line, carrying the extra weight becomes exhausting. And let’s not talk about trying to find a comfortable position to sleep or the endless nighttime trips to the bathroom.

If you’re overly tired, you’re more likely to experience a twitching eye.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Prenatal vitamins and a balanced diet give you the vitamins and minerals you need to meet your nutritional needs and those of your baby. This is relevant when talking about eye twitching, as imbalances in magnesium and potassium can lead to eye spasms.

Magnesium is part of over 300 enzyme systems that control different biochemical reactions in your body, including muscle contractions. Meanwhile, potassium is needed for optimal nerve impulse transmission.

Dry eyes

You usually blink 10 to 20 times per minute, but when you’re reading or staring at a computer screen, you blink less often. That means your eyes aren’t getting the moisture they need. Add the hormonal changes of pregnancy to that, and you get dry eyes that spasm.

Eyestrain

You’re likely doing a little more googling these days (you may have even landed on this article as a result of searching for information about eye twitching during pregnancy). And whose eyes aren’t strained by the overuse of computers, tablets, and smartphones?

Now that you’re pregnant, you may find the glare from digital devices even more irritating.

Caffeine

Although caffeine is fine in moderation during pregnancy, drinking too much of it may cause eye spasms.

Get some rest and relaxation

Your eye twitch is the perfect excuse to make sure you make time for a walk in the park, visit with your best friend, or nap. Tune in to what you need and pamper yourself with the self-care that always gets pushed to the end of your to-do list.

Take your vitamins (and minerals)

You get points for remembering to take your prenatal supplement. Give yourself a boost by adding potassium-rich bananas and magnesium-rich foods like avocados, nuts, and (hurray!) dark chocolate. (In moderation, of course.)

Hydrate

You can use artificial tears to moisturize your eyes, but why not go green? Put chilled cucumber slices over your closed eyelids.

Research shows that the hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties of the humble cucumber can reduce swelling, soothe your skin, and even stimulate antioxidant activity. Plus, you get to lay down to keep the slices in place.

Reduce eyestrain

The best practice here is to limit your screen time. Next on the list comes the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, lift your head and focus on something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. If this doesn’t help, you may want to invest in an anti-glare screen or anti-glare glasses.

In rare cases, eye twitching can indicate something more serious. Contact your doctor if you have mid-facial, lower facial, or brow spasms. Persistent twitching that gets worse could indicate a more serious condition, such as blepharospasm, which affects women more often than men.

There are several ways to treat repeated twitching, but not all are considered safe during pregnancy. The following may be recommended by your doctor for use after delivery:

  • Injecting Botox into the muscles of the eyelids is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved treatment that paralyzes the muscles of the eyelids and thus puts an end to the twitching.
  • Oral medications help some people.
  • Surgery can remove some of the muscles and nerves of the eyelids.

Aside from eye twitching, there are a few other eye changes you may notice during pregnancy. Some of these changes are totally normal, but others warrant a call to your doctor.

Pregnancy-related eye symptoms that are most often totally normal

  • Migraine. If you have a tendency to develop migraine, the hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy may make you even more likely to experience a migraine attack. Classical migraine may make you see stars. Ocular migraine may make you see flashy lights and lines, along with the stars. Fortunately, ocular migraine isn’t accompanied by pain.
  • Floaters. These tiny specks float in and out of your field of vision. They’re usually little bits of vitreous gel inside your eye. When you’re pregnant, you may see these floaters more often than usual due to high blood pressure or elevated glucose levels. Still, visual disturbances are one of the most common symptoms of preeclampsia, so discuss them with your doctor to ensure nothing else is going on.
  • Blurred vision. Water retention is common during pregnancy. Just as fluid accumulates in your feet, it can also accumulate in your eye, causing changes in the cornea and thus blurred vision.

Pregnancy-related eye symptoms that warrant a call to your doctor

  • Flashes. Occasional flashes are OK, but if they persist or you’re often seeing streaks of light, you should see an optician. These could be caused by a detached retina.
  • Vision problems. If you have problems with your vision (blurring, flashing lights, floaters), a headache, or severe pain just below your ribs, you may be experiencing preeclampsia. Contact your doctor, as this is a serious pregnancy complication.

Eye twitching isn’t usually a serious problem, and its causes — like stress and tiredness — can be especially common during pregnancy. Still, sometimes there are more serious issues at play, so see your doctor if you have additional symptoms.

Hang in there and keep your eye on the finish line — soon, you’ll be cradling your baby.