Suffering from a twitchy eye is quite common during pregnancy, apparently. It is normally caused by stress or tiredness – and, we all know how tired pregnancy can make us feel.
I'm currently halfway through my second pregnancy, and - at the time of writing - I've had a twitchy eye daily for about a month.
I was ready for the back ache, the nausea, the water retention – but I wasn't ready for this. It can be really debilitating, with a twitch affecting the upper or lower eyelids – or sometimes both. For me, it's my right eye, and it feels like I'm winking all day long.
Given my pregnancy is happening in the middle of a pandemic, while I'm juggling work and a toddler, it's not really surprising that I'm more tired and stressed than in my first pregnancy.
I've felt very alone and isolated - as I'm sure huge swathes of the country do at the moment, especailly pregnant and new mums. I've just reached 25 weeks and have only just seen a midwife in person - until now, apart from scans, I've just had a couple of very short, cursory phone calls. This lack of support is adding to my stress, so it's no wonder my body is showing symptoms of stress physically now too.
It can be tiredness that causes an eye twitch, and it also makes you feel more tired – oh the irony. It can be particularly annoying if you work on a computer all day, when you’re most likely to suffer with tired eyes anyway - like I do.
Normally, an eye twitch is annoying, but nothing more to worry about. However, they can persist, and if you’re concerned it’s a symptom of something more, then always consult with your GP or midwife to double check.
What causes eye twitches?
Stress and tiredness are obvious answers, and also things we often experience during pregnancy (and afterwards). Other possible causes include:
You can be particularly prone to dry eyes if you work on a computer all day, as you blink less often than normally – and you need to blink regularly to keep your eyes moisturised. The hormonal changes during pregnancy can also add to this. I do suffer with dry eyes, and especially during the newborn stage with my first baby - I would wake for the nightfeed and barely be able to open my eyes without them feeling like they were being ripped apart by sandpaper.
Magnesium and potassium are both important vitamins and minerals when it comes to eye health, so having an imbalance of these can cause eye twitches. All the more reason to make sure you take your pregnancy vitamins.
Solutions for eye twitches
I’ve frequently suffered from eye twitches, and I know I’m prone to them when I’m tired or stressed.
I’ve been searching for remedies to help with this eye twitch and try to convince it to take a night off. Least of all because it feels like I’m winking at everyone in Zoom meetings (they say they can’t see it, but they might just be humouring the stressed-out pregnant woman).
Rest and relaxation is important during your pregnancy, and more so if you’re suffering with eye twitches as a result of stress and tiredness. Put your feet up, woman! Stop the housework, take a day off work if you can, put your phone down. I've been making time for a relaxing bath, putting on some calming music and turning social media off for the evening.
Take your vitamins
As mentioned above, vitamin deficiencies could be behind that twitchy eye, so I've been making sure I'm taking my vitamins daily.
It's always important to make sure you’re drinking enough water during the day – I know this is hard when you have to pee every 10 minutes and there’s quite literally no room left inside you for another glass of water. But, it’s vital for your eye health – as well as staving off tiredness, as being hydrated is an important part of keeping your body running smoothly. You can also hydrate your eyes with a couple of slices of cucumber over your lids as you put your feet up for 10 minutes.
I do struggle with drinking enough - in the first three months of this pregnancy I know I wasn't, because just the thought of drinking anything made me nauseated, and trying to swallow would make me gag. Less than ideal when trying to keep my water intake up.
Limit your screen time
This can be hard if you work in front of a computer all day, like I do, but I make sure I get at least five minutes away from my screen every hour. And that means not spending those five minutes staring at my phone, either. In the evenings and spare moments, I try not to use my phone too much – social media is addictive and can add to eye strain.
A warm compress, or heaty wheaty bag, can help with eye problems. When I've used heat bags, it's important to keep an eye (no pun intended) on the temperature and don’t heat it too much. Applying heat to affected areas can help with lots of conditions and ailments, but always use with care around your eyes.
I have used a few heat bags, and it definitely only works for me if you apply the heat bag to both eyes at once – for me, applying it to just one eye simply feels weird and actually seemed to strain the other eye. Which means, don’t try to apply it to the bad eye and still try to work using just one eye… (speaking from experience).
Heated eye masks
I'm a big fan of heated eye masks for general relaxation, and so using them to ease an eye twitch is a natural progression. I like using them in the bath, or popping one on when I'm going to bed – they help me to drift off to sleep quickly.
I am a Reiki practitioner so it’s no surprise that I rely on this healing therapy to assist with any ailments I’d have. In the least, Reiki can help you relax and calm down; at best, it can directly help physical ailments.
The best products to help a twitchy eye
Here’s a range of products I’ve tried and would recommend for helping an eye twitch. My favourite is the Luna Eyes heated eye mask, although it didn’t cure my twitch completely, it certainly eased it. The only thing that gets rid of the twitch completely for me is a Reiki treatment.
Luxury Wheat Bag
I’ve had one of these wheat bags in my cupboards for years, but hadn’t ever tried them on my eyes before. It’s simple to use – pop in the microwave to heat up for a few seconds/minutes, and make sure not to heat it too hot if you’re using on your eyes. Lay down somewhere quiet and place the wheaty bag over your eyes. The bag is filled with natural wheat, which can feel damp the first few times you use it, but it soon wears off.
You can add a couple of drops of essential oil to the bag too, for even more relaxation. The benefits of a wheaty bag is that it’s reusable – rather than just single use.
Sensory Retreats Luna Eyes Self-Heating Sleep Masks (box of 7)
Simply open the sealed package, place on your eyes and slip the elastic around your ears, and the mask starts to gently heat up. The heat lasts for about 20-25 minutes, so that’s plenty of time to help you drift off to sleep, or to wear while you relax on the sofa or in the bath. There’s a subtle lavender smell too, which also helps you to relax. When you buy this box of masks, you also get access to 85 minutes of relaxing music, plus a guided meditation track too.
They’re safe to wear all night long, although obviously the heat wears off. I found I would wake up after about an hour and push the mask off my eyes to continue sleeping.
Spacemasks (pack of 5)
Another single-use heated eye mask, Spacemasks work in a similar way to the Luna Eye Masks. Pop one on to your eyes before bed, or getting ready to relax by yourself, and feel the gentle heat relax your eyes and mind. These are scented with jasmine, although I couldn’t smell it much – not as much as I could smell the lavender on the others. The heat lasts for about 15-20 minutes.
Vitabiotics Pregnacare Original (30 tablets)
It’s important to take your pregnancy vitamins, not just because it could help prevent eye twitches. Stock up and make sure you take them every day – I keep them in the mug cupboard so I remember when I make my morning cuppa.
Chilly’s Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is vital on a normal day, but even more so when you’re pregnant. Treat yourself to a fancy water bottle to encourage yourself a bit more – it works, honest.