How I Finally (Finally!) Got My Eye to Stop Twitching

Or: “About That Time My Doctor Prescribed Gin and Tonics”


Alright, I think it’s time for a full health confession: There was a stretch of time in my life, which ended earlier this year, where I swear my left eye was twitching for nine months straight. I know that sounds outrageous. And I know I am often prone to exaggeration. But in this case, I promise you, I’m not exaggerating.

Here’s how I know: Sometime last summer, I went to the doctor for an annual checkup. I vividly remember telling her that my left upper eyelid had been twitching fairly regularly (i.e. for about 20 seconds every few minutes of every. single. day.) for the past month or so. I was sheepish to tell her because, like, duh she has more important things to worry about, like actually saving people’s lives and what not. But since she was being so kind, so understanding and so darn thorough, I thought I might as well lay every bothersome ailment on the line. Which brought me to:

“Doc, I know this is going to sound weird and all, but my left eye. See it? Right now? See how it’s twitching? It’s been doing that for at least the last month,” I said.

“Huh,” she replied, as she leaned in to get a closer look. “It doesn’t look too suspicious …”


"Yeah, but it's really freaking annoying," I interrupted. (Of course I did.) "And it's embarrassing. I can see people looking at it when they're talking to me. Please tell me I just need a new prescription for my glasses or something."

"Hmmm," she said. "Spastic eyelid muscles usually don't have anything to do with your vision. Most likely, you're really tired, really stressed out, have been drinking too much caffeine, or you've got some combination of the three."

I thought about my sleep habits. I had been stressed and tired two months before when we put on our very first Be Well Boot Camp, but that was ancient history by then. And it was (and still is) a rare day if I drink more than one cup of coffee. Couldn't be the caffeine. Hrumph.

"My advice is that you try to relax the lid, maybe massage it some, and try to ignore it," she said. I love my doctor, but this just seemed like a cop out.

Nevertheless, over the next weeks and months (yes, months) I did what she said, closing my eyes for a few minutes and massaging, any time the twitch started. I also Googled the heck out of "twitching eye" and tried every home remedy I could find. Still, that dang left upper lid just kept right on twitching.

This past spring, I decided to get a second opinion and get my eyes checked. It'd been a few years since I'd been to the eye doctor, anyway, so a checkup couldn't hurt. I so hoped my prescription was outdated so I could get some new specs, which would finally make my eye stop twitching, and I could move on with my life. But after another very thorough investigation ...

"Your glasses prescription is fine," the doctor told me. "They're exactly the prescription I'd recommend to you to today, so you definitely don't need new glasses."

Siiiiiiigh.

"Then what the heck is wrong with me?!" I blurted out. He listed the same possible causes as my primary: fatigue. Too much caffeine. Stress. Nope, nope and nope.

"Well, I'm not sure what's causing it for you, exactly," he said, "but I do have one idea you can try. Tonic."

Tonic? Like gin and tonic?

"Yes, like a gin and tonic," he said. Wait, was my eye doctor actually telling me to go drink a gin and tonic, and in hopes that it would cure me?

Yes, yes he was. And here's why: Tonic water contains quinine, and quinine is known to be a somewhat effective muscle relaxant, shown to help people with muscle cramping in a few studies. My doctor said he'd been at a medical conference a few months earlier, and he and a couple of eye-doctor friends got to talking about eye twitches. One of them mentioned that he'd had a patient with persistent eye twitching (me! me! me!) and he'd recommended that the patient guzzle some tonic water to help get the muscle to relax. And—guess what?—the patient said it worked.

"There aren't any studies that I know of to back this up," my doctor said. "But I've heard about it working, anecdotally, from several people."

Obviously, I was going to try it.

So I marched out of his office, old glasses in hand, and headed straight to Rite Aid, where I loaded a basket with six bottles of diet tonic water. Then I promptly went back to my office and started chugging. Guys, have you ever had tonic water by itself, without alcohol? It's pretty freaking gross. Kinda bitter. Kinda sweet. Mostly gross. But I didn't care. I was so far past my wit's end with this eye twitch, I was willing to try anything.

I can't say for certain how many bottles of tonic I consumed that afternoon and evening, but I would guess it was somewhere between two and three. (Which is why I'm happy I found diet tonic. The regular stuff has so much sugar!) I didn't notice any improvements in my eye twitch in the first few hours, but the next morning I woke up and ... Huh, my eye's not twitching, I thought to myself as I ate breakfast. And a couple of hours later, at work: Huh, my eye still hasn't twitched once today. Not once. It went like this for the next few days. I would realize, suddenly, that the thing that had annoyed me for close to nine months at this point had finally, utterly, completely stopped. And it felt amazing.

I've had a few episodes of sporadic twitching since then, but whenever it flares up, I grab some tonic and it cures me within a few hours or a day. Done and done.

So there you have it: the story of why my doctor legitimately prescribed me gin and tonic as a health remedy. Well, just tonic technically, but you can't blame a girl for occasionally adding a little gin to the mix, right? Right.

Photo: Shutterstock

  • Kielecia

    Oh my god! I am going to try it. I have had an eye twitch in my left eye for a week and it’s driving me bonkers!

  • Barb D

    same problem – works for me too!

  • Mrst732

    Totally going to try this, I’ve been twitching for over a month now!

  • Jerry

    Do you have to keep drinking it in order for the twitching to not come back?

  • Kris

    I have tried it, and it hasn’t worked. Still twitching:( I am about to lose my mind!

    • Linda Sparks

      Kris how much did you drink? I think volume is the key. You have to drink a LOT the first few days. I also found the diet stuff worked rather than the regular (for some odd reason) Keep trying, buy 6 bottles and guzzle them all in one day, then do it again for the next couple. Good luck!

      • Emily Leaman

        I agree! You really, REALLY have to guzzle the stuff, at least at first. That’s why I recommended the diet — regular tonic is loaded with sugar.

        • Linda Sparks

          Just a little warning though, the diet tastes horrible! The first bottle almost didn’t stay down, so I bought some animal crackers cause they arent too bad with the sugar,and I’d eat one or two in between. It cut the taste of the diet stuff. But I got used to it pretty fast.

          • Avadon

            That’s what I’m finding out. The diet tonic tastes like cold medicine but 10x more bitter. It’s awful. I cut it half and half with vitamin water and It’s still quite awful, just a little less awful. And you’re right, I almost thought I was going to be sick after only drinking 4-6 oz of the stuff. Eventually though you get stronger with tolerating it. I’ve now put down about 14oz in the first day. It’s nasty stuff though. I wish there was an easier way.

          • Linda Sparks

            There IS an easier way. I mix it with orange juice. Half tonic half orange juice and it actually tastes fabulous! I can drink tons of it now. Two weeks, and still no twitch. Try the orange juice. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

          • Avadon

            If I wasn’t snowed in right now I would totally run and get some. Second day of tonicness and I can’t say for sure but it might have cut down the twitchyness a little bit.

          • Linda Sparks

            It took 4 days for me. I’d get periods where it wouldn’t twitch and I’d think “yay it’s gone” but a few hours later it would be back. I’m steady now, but I drink a bottle a day mixed with orange juice.

          • Wendy Banner

            Maybe some water flavoring could be added, like Cherry or Grape.

  • alexbartlett93

    im going to try this, its been almost three weeks of eye twitching every five minutes, if no signs of improvement ill see my eye doctor and a regular doctor

  • chantelle

    ahhhh I hope this works !

  • ozzy

    Thanks for the suggestion, but article should be shorter.

    • Chris

      ….why? Because you’re lazy the author can’t write shit? Seriously?

  • belinda

    Thanks for sharing I have been twitching for two weeks and I too did not want to go tothe doctor thimking Iit would get better..I will try your suggestion it cant hurt

  • Love

    Same problem for over two months..gonna try this..hope it wrks..

  • Rick32

    I had this for a month, it was eventually found to be a brain tumor causing it..luckily it was found very early, still the scariest time in my life. Get yourself checked.

  • Linda Sparks

    This article is perfect just the way it is. I have to say a HUGE thank you Emily Leaman. This worked for me. My eye had been twitching for almost 4 months and it was driving me absolutely nuts. I was almost gouging my own eye out in frustration. I bought a 6 pack of small bottles, and 2 large 1 liter bottles and guzzled them like I was dying of dehydration. It took a few days, but I am now twitch free! Thank you Thank you Thank you. I am astonished it worked, but just incredibly grateful!

    • Emily Leaman

      I’m so, SO glad it worked for you!

      • Avadon

        I’m going to be all over this. I’m going to be a tonic-holic until this twitching goes away.

      • Brock

        I have had the same problem geez it’s freakin annoying been going on for about 3 months solid everyday. I’m going to try this. Thank you for posting

  • AG

    I’ve had an eye twitch ever since I graduated basic training (in May 2013… well over 8 months now). Upper left eyelid constantly flutters. I’ve gotten the same reactions from the army docs here (must be the stress! the caffeine! you’re not sleeping! – none of which are accurate). Sending my husband on a tonic-buying mission as I type. I’m willing to try ANYTHING at this point! I’ve noticed that loud noises or being startled can make it worse. Anyway, here goes. Thanks for the article.

  • Avadon

    I’ve got nagging eye twitching which started after the flu. It’s my right eye, lower lid and it hasn’t gone away for about 3 weeks. It’s driving me batty. I’m going to try this tonic thing at once.

  • amanda

    OK I have drank 4 liters of diet tonic. I really hope tomorrow it’s gone. I find it odd that when I work out it goes away while working out. Does that happen to anyone else?

    • Avadon

      I noticed the same thing. Only thing I can think is that you’re getting a lot of blood flow and stimulation and that makes the twitching straight out. I’m guessing the twitching happens because the nerve/muscle area is weak and spasms, but that’s not an easy area to strength train. I’ve seen articles to cure twitching by doing eye exercises. I did them too. But I had no gains from it, still twitching. I’m trying the tonic thing now but it’s so hard to keep the stuff down. It’s really nasty stuff.

      • amanda

        I had drank 4 liters of diet tonic but it was the generic kind and tasted more like sprite. And the twitching seemed to slow down but hasn’t stopped. So now I bought the Canada dry brand and it taste more bitter. So maybe there is a difference. And I am like you, the after taste is getting to me but hey it’s worn it if it will work

  • Avadon

    In hindsight I just discovered this

    Hyland’s Nighttime Leg Cramp Relief Tablets, with Quinine – 50 count

    Supposedly you can get it at walgreens and similar stores. Other pharmacies might have it too. This is probably a much smarter way to get the Quinine than the tonic water and far less disgusting to boot.

    • amanda

      Cool I’ll have to look for them

      • twitchy mcgee

        I got the hyland’s leg cramps tablets on Amazon. But the packaging says it contains 1/1000th of the quinine in 8 oz of tonic water. SO now I’m skeptical it will work. I will check back here and report. Then again I’m also drinking diet tonic and gagging. So if the twitch goes away I won’t know what did it. About to rip my eye out of the socket.

        • Linda Sparks

          mix the diet tonic with orange juice. It tastes very pleasant. Just be wary, I was drinking a bottle a day, and I developed an allergic reaction to it. So now I’m not drinking any and I’m praying the twitch doesn’t come back.

  • Geo

    I can’t wait to try this, my eyelid has been twitching for 4 months. I must have googled it 100 times. Thanks for the idea will update after i get some tonic!

  • Gerda

    Hi. Thank you. I have just send a prayer request out, my eyes have been twitching for over 20 years. Fed up, have tried everything. I am positive this will work. thank you again for sharing. xxx

  • Christine Mosha

    I am also going to try this. My left has been twitching for
    over a month now

  • Wendy Banner

    If this works then you’d think that my taking a muscle relaxer prescription would work too wouldn’t you? Hmmm. Just curious did you happen to have come off of taking Prozac in this same year before the twitch began?

  • Shana

    Yes! Someone understands my pain! Thanks for posting this. I will be buying some tonic real soon. :)

  • Gapeachy

    I can’t believe how many people deal with this. I’m thankful for a solution and will try it immediately . Thank you thank you!

  • Rory

    I’ve been dealing with an eye twitch for three years! The last month it got really bad and noticed others were noticing.

    I can’t explain well enough the relief of trying the diet tonic water and the twitch started to slow down and now waking up and it’s still away. Thank you for writing about this!!

  • lameplanet

    I have had twitchy eye now for about 6 weeks, and it’s annoying enough. But I’m not sure the recommendation to drink a ton of tonic water is a good one, even if it worked for you. There are risks associated with taking Quinine, especially if the dosage is not controlled. In the interests of balance people should also read about the possible health risks – google FDA quinine recommendations for leg cramps – and if in doubt consult a doctor.

  • TwitchFactor

    ill be sure to add alcohol to mine (only so it doesnt taste bad =p)

  • heli

    add Rose’s LIme Juice to your tonic water, it tastes yummy without a lot of calories. I hope this works, I can’t stand the twitch!

  • Cristal

    Hi Emily, thank you for your suggestion. Just wanted to ask how big were your bottles, how many ounces?