Eye tics in Tourette Syndrome

Tics involving the eyes can be a frustrating, painful tic to experience.

Eye tics can come in the form of crossing or rolling eyes, blinking, opening wide, closing tight and squinting. They can be painful and effect our eyesight depending on the severity. They can be very frustrating and be embarrassing if we are around other people.

I have my personal experience of this, and encountered many people with similar tics.

It affects me more when I really want to focus

It seems like eye tics affect me at times when it really impacts me. Times when I rely on eyesight the most.

An example of this is when I am playing sports. I used to play as a goalkeeper and I really needed to be focused at all times. Because of this, I had a strong urge to cross my eyes and ruin my vision. I think knowing it was the worst possible time to do so made it even harder to resist, something many people with Tourette know all too well.

I also felt this eye crossing tic when driving. Again, it seems like the trend is doing unnatural eye movements when I know it’s a terrible time to do so.

I also feel it a lot more when I am playing video games. Those moments when I should be the most engrossed in the action, instead spent fighting back the urge to cross my eyes. No doubt this leads to frustration when something goes against me, and I am surprised more controllers haven’t been broken.

It can be a painful experience

I experience pain when I have to shut my eyes tightly. I often only feel satisfied if I feel some pain. It validates the tic.

The pure repetition of this tic, along with the sensitivity of the eye, can easily lead to soreness and possibly injury. This risk is increased if the eye is involved in a complex motor tic such as punching or hitting.

I will always advise to seek professional help with tics. It is helpful to be referred to a neurologist, but also to make sure your body is not at risk of further harm.

Tics are just one problem associated with Tourette and tic disorders. Injury is another, and the sooner the risk is assessed the less damage can be done.

It is very common!

Because of how often we give people eye contact, it can be a very easy one to spot. Not just for us, but when engaging with other people.

I have noticed plenty of people with eye tics throughout my life, from kids in my class growing up, to fellow students in college to work colleagues.

Tourette is much more common than often realised, and I can assure anyone reading this that they aren’t as embarrassing as they may seem. Frustrating though? Yes! Our eyesight is as valuable as it is fragile, and nothing reminds me I have Tourette more than foggy vision from repetitive movements and watery, bloodshot eyes.

But knowing I am not alone was one of the most comforting feelings for me. And knowing there is help out there, and it is improving every year, will hopefully make this kind of motor tic much more manageable.

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Hi, I'm Sam. I write about Tourette and OCD to help myself and others.


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