That blasted eye twitch! It’s irritating, it always happens at an awkward time and it feels like everyone can see it. We all get them, but we do know how they originate? Dr. Lisa Sherlock, an Optometrist with Southwestern Eye Center, gives us details on that annoying, natural tick and what causes it (and how to get rid of it!)

“The most common causes result from lack of sleep, fatigue, anxiety and stress,” says Dr. Sherlock. “The stress can be emotionally related or physically related. Physical vision-related stress can occur if you are not wearing the correct glasses or from over use such as in spending too much time staring at a computer screen. Other causes include excess use of alcohol, smoking, caffeine and energy drinks.”

Myokymia is a lid twitch, which is common. Medical conditions that can cause twitching include nervous system disorders such as Tourette’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Bell’s palsy and multiple sclerosis. “Treating the underlying disease can help to decrease the twitching in these cases,” says Dr. Sherlock. In addition, she says that allergies, dry eyes, a foreign body in the eye and nutritional imbalances can cause myokymia.

So what are we to do? Get enough sleep and slash in half that cup (or two) of coffee. “Lubricating drops and cold packs can [also] sometimes be of help,” says Dr. Sherlock. “If allergies are the underlying cause, taking an antihistamine can help. When the twitching does not stop despite these measures, Botox (botulinum toxin) can be injected into the affected eyelid muscles to cause temporary paralysis. This may stop the twitching for up to three to four months.”