An eye twitch may be a minor annoyance, but can it also signal the arrival of an enemy or a wealth of riches? Is there a meaning behind your twitching eye? Eye twitching myths exist around the world.
In this guide, we explain the most common left and right eye twitching superstitions then discuss what science knows (and doesn’t know) about the causes of eye twitches. We end with tips that can help you get your eye to stop twitching sooner if it’s bothering you.
Let’s get started so you can learn what that twitching eye means.
What Are the Most Common Eye Twitching Superstitions?
Eye twitching myths exist all over the world, and in this section we discuss some of the most well-known superstitions in five different regions. Not everyone in these areas believes the superstitions; some see them more as fun stories to discuss, and some don’t believe them at all. However, these eye twitching superstitions still remain part of the culture in each of these places. These superstitions come from several sources, including the University of Southern California’s Folklore Archives, Oxford Classes, and Scientific American.
Some parts of Africa, particularly Cameroon and Nigeria, have several eye twitching superstitions. If your upper eyelid (of either eye) twitches, it’s believed you’ll soon receive an unexpected visitor. If your lower eyelid twitches, it’s believed you’ll soon begin crying.
In Nigeria in particular, there’s also a left eye twitching superstition that, if your left eye twitches, it’s a sign of bad luck.
In China, they have a left eye twitching superstition and a right eye twitching superstition. The superstitions are if your left eye twitches it’s good luck, and if your right eye twitches, it’s bad luck. These superstitions are based on the similarity between different words in Mandarin Chinese. The word for “left” in Mandarin Chinese sounds similar to the word for “money” (which could connect left eye-twitching to riches), while the word for “right” sounds similar to the word for “disaster” and therefore could indicate bad luck coming.
The Chinese Almanac also lists superstitions for both the left and right eyes depending on what time of day the twitching occurs. The time of day corresponds to a specific animal on the Chinese zodiac calendar.
|Time of Day||Zodiac Animal||Left Eye Twitching Superstition||Right Eye Twitching Superstition|
|11:00pm-1:00am||Rat||You’ll receive a visit from a nobleman.||You’ll receive an invitation to a party or feast.|
|1:00am-3:00am||Ox||Something you’ve been worrying about will occur.||Someone is thinking about you.|
|3:00am-5:00am||Tiger||You’ll receive a visit from a friendly foreigner.||A good event will soon occur.|
|5:00am-7:00am||Rabbit||Someone you care about will soon visit you.||You’ll have a good day today.|
|7:00am-9:00am||Dragon||A friend living far away will soon visit you.||You’re at risk for losing something important or injuring yourself.|
|9:00am-11:00am||Snake||You’ll receive an invitation to a party or feast.||You’ll soon get into an argument with someone.|
|11:00am-1:00pm||Horse||You’ll receive an invitation to a party or feast.||You’ll soon experience bad luck.|
|1:00pm-3:00pm||Sheep||You’ll soon gain some money.||You’ll soon experience a small, but positive, event.|
|3:00pm-5:00pm||Monkey||You’ll soon experience a bit of bad luck.||Someone is thinking of you in a romantic way.|
|5:00pm-7:00pm||Rooster||A friend will soon visit you.||A foreigner will soon visit you.|
|7:00pm-9:00pm||Dog||A visitor will stop by your home today.||You’ll soon be invited to a large party.|
|9:00pm-11:00pm||Boar||A friend will soon visit you.||You may soon have trouble in court.|
In Hawaii, there is a left eye twitching superstition that if your left eye twitches, it can indicate the arrival of a stranger or an impending death in the family. There is also a right eye twitching superstition that a twitching right eye could signify that a child will be born soon.
Eye twitching is mentioned numerous times in Hindu scripture, and when a god has a twitching eye, it often acts as an important omen, signifying future events. There are many eye twitching superstitions in India depending on region and religion, but there are some common themes many of the superstitions share.
Many Indian eye-twitching superstitions depend on whether the person with the twitching eye is male or female. If your right eye is twitching, that is good luck for a man and back luck for a woman. If your left eye is twitching, that is bad luck for a man but good luck for a woman.
There are also superstitions based on which part of the eye is twitching.
- If the pupil of the eye twitches, it’s a sign of good luck.
- If the upper part of the eye twitches, that’s a sign you’ll soon get some money.
- If the lower eyelid twitches, you may soon be needing to spend money.
- If the upper eyelid twitches, you may be receiving bad news soon.
- If the eyebrow twitches, you be receiving good news soon, or it may indicate the birth of a child.
The people of Trinidad, in the West Indies, have multiple eye twitching myths and superstitions in their culture. Many of the West Indies superstitions originated in Africa and were brought to the islands by slaves during colonialism. Trinidadians refer to eye twitching as “eye jumping,” and they believe it has different meanings depending on which eye is affected.
The right eye twitching superstition is that if your right eye jumps one or more of the following may be true:
- You’re going to hear good news.
- Someone is currently saying good things about you.
- You’ll run into someone you haven’t seen in a long time.
If your left eye is the one that’s jumping, one or more of the following may be true:
- You’re going to hear bad news.
- Someone is saying bad things about you.
- Someone you care about is doing something behind your back.
- Someone you care about may be in trouble.
As you can see, in the West Indies, when your right eye is twitching, it means that generally something good will happen, but when the left eye is twitching, something bad will likely happen.
What’s the Scientific Reasoning Behind Eye Twitches?
When your eye twitches, does that really mean it’s because you can expect to get a lot of money or run into an old friend? Actually, no. Blepharospasm, the scientific term for eye twitching, is a repeated, involuntary spasm of the eyelid muscle.
Doctors still haven’t found the exact reason behind eye twitches, but some potential causes are fatigue, stress, high caffeine consumption, dry eyes, and irritation to the eye.
How Can You Get Your Eye to Stop Twitching?
In almost all cases, your eye twitching still soon stop on its own. However, there are some things you can to hurry it along and reduce the chances of it occurring in the future:
- Get enough sleep
- Stay hydrated
- Use eye drops if you suffer from dry eyes
- Avoid smoky, dusty, or highly-polluted areas
- Cut back on alcohol, caffeine, and smoking
- Cover your eyes with a cold compress or slices of cucumber
- Reduce the number of hours you spend looking at a screen (TV, phone, computer, etc.) each day
If your eye twitch lasts longer than a week, you have spasms in other facial muscles, or you have redness, swelling, or discharge from your eye, see a doctor.
Recap: What Does Your Twitching Eye Mean?
There are numerous eye twitching myths from around the world, promising everything from meeting a friend to becoming rich if you have an eye twitch. These superstitions often vary depending on which eye is twitching, if you’re a man or a woman, and even the time of day that the eye twitch occurs. A left eye twitch superstition is often related to bad news, and a right eye twitch superstition to good news, but this is not always the case.
Doctors still don’t know the exact cause behind eye twitching, but it may be caused by fatigue, stress, or caffeine. Nearly all cases of eye twitching are harmless and will go away on their own, but if you’d like to try to end the twitching sooner, you should be sure to get enough sleep, stay hydrated, avoid eye irritants, cut back on caffeine, and use eye drops if your eyes are dry.