21 answers

Eye Rolling "Ticks"

My son started having what I describe as an eye "tick". His eyes will roll back and he will blink sometimes a couple of times. It seems to be worse when he is tired. When it first started happening I looked up some info. online and read that it sometimes is triggered by allergies and sensitive eyes, which we all have really bad allergies. It said to use eye drops and an allergy medicine daily. I have been doing this, I know we miss days on occasion accidentally but even when we don't miss for several days I don't know that I can tell a difference. I haven't called his pedi yet because I have a tendancy to over-react but I really am starting to get a little worried. This has been going on for several months now. I also read that it is pretty common for kids to get different "ticks" and they will usually out grow them. He does know when it happens and has even tried to physically stop it but he says that he eventually just has to give in and roll them. He just turned 9 in Nov. Has anyone experienced anything like this and what did you do? I appreciate your advice.

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Both of my sons have exhibited different "ticks" at different times. My oldest son usually has ticks that are associated with his mouth and tongue noises. My younger one has an eye twitch/blinking tick. It does get worse when they are tired, but with my oldest son, it was worse when stress and tension in the home were up. I also made it worse by bringing attention to it and trying to get him to stop. The noises are SO irritating and at times I thought he was doing it to aggrevate me. Over time I've realized they are involuntary and I only make it worse by noticing it. Once I would make myself back off and try to lessen the stress in the house the ticks would eventually slow down, and for now they have stopped. All you can do is "nothing" so to speak. Most grow out of occasional ticks and some people continue to have them into adulthood. Unless it interferes with normal life, there is no treatment besides having adequate rest and less stress.

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We live in Florida. My 8 year old son has always been a very healthy child. Never a cold, not one childhood sickness. Two weeks ago he started to roll his eyes from side to side with a neck movement. He said he couldn’t help doing it. The look in his eyes when he was doing it was like he had nerve palsies, like tourette. It came so suddenly. It was really weird and frightening.
I started to really freak out. I asked him if somebody hit him on the head, if he fell. No mommy, no mommy… What happened? I took him right away to the pediatrician. He just did some physical tests, eye movement tests. And came to the conclusion he had “tics” and it would go away by itself. My kid is so laid back, he cannot have tics, I said to myself. Something was wrong. I looked into pandas (never had a sore throat I don’t think it is what it is), epilepsy, strokes, maybe... I started to put him on multivitamins in case of deficiencies. He is very tall for his age. I figured maybe something was wrong with his eyes. So I took him to the optometrist. She did a thorough exam on his eyes. She said his eyes and vision was perfect. His eyes were very red because of the constant and extensive eye rolling. After the optometrist we came back home. I thought taking him to see the eye doctor maybe helped him with the tic. He was doing it once every 30 minutes instead of all the time after the appointment. I felt something happened. He was going to be ok…
The next day it was back, full force. Eye rolling, head shaking. At this point my husband and I almost couldn’t look at my son anymore. We felt terrible. One week passed. I met his teachers and they asked me what happened to your son? He wasn’t doing that the week before. He was still doing good with schoolwork, he could read good. I was starting to really loose it. My husband told me he if kept doing it we would take him to a neurologist.
So, I decided to rethink about everything that happened the week before he started doing it. I started to investigate with his friends, what he could have been in contact with. And then I realized he might have been in contact with pesticides. A pest company was spraying around the neighborhood this specific week end. And you know kids, they don’t look at the labels on the grass. OMG. That might be it. I looked into permethrin, that is what they were spraying around. This is a very common pesticide around here in Florida. They use it for insect and weed control. It is a strong neurotoxin. I looked at the side effects for children if in contact. Tremors, convulsions. It blocks sodium ion channels in animals, the same nerve channels that controls voluntary movement. And children are much more sensitive to it than adults. I looked up for the antidote in case of extreme poisoning. Atropine belladonna is what I found. I also found out that atropine, which is made from the belladonna flower is what they use to dilate eyes at the eye doctor, which may have explained why his symptoms may have slowed down after the eye doctor appointment. I said to myself I know how I can get belladonna. I am from Europe originally and my mom swears by homeopathy. We never went to the doctor as kids, she took us to the homeopath. I remembered she sometimes used to give us the the homeopathic remedy belladonna when we get sick .
I rushed to the nutrition smart, bought belladonna 6c. I gave my son 5 pellets as soon as he came back from school, 5 pellets before dinner, and 5 pellets before he went to bed. During the afternoon, he was still doing the eye rolling, head turning thing. The next morning, woke up. Nothing. I was petrified. He went to school. Came back at 2.30pm. Nothing, no eye rolling no head turning. I asked him about his day and he told me that his teachers asked him what happened to him. They couldn’t believe it. He was not doing it anymore. In the afternoon same, he stopped. That has been two days now, and it is over. This nightmare is over.
So, if your kid start doing that suddenly, look into chemicals that can have affected his nerves. And take them to an homeopathic doctor. And find the antidote. For pesticide exposure, it looks like belladonna did the trick. I saw some people their kids started doing that after being in swimming pools so maybe they are very sensitive to chlorine.
Homeopathic remedies must be taken before meals, under the tongue. There is no side effects. Do not bite the pellets, let them melt under the tongue. Do not use any kind of mint. Ever.Even in toothpaste during treatment. This is my story and hope it can help any helpless, desperate moms and dads like us.
Do not hesitate to give me feedback. Thanks for reading.


I was totally where you are last year. My daughter who is a 5th grader now. Developed ticks last year in fourth grade.
She had several different ticks.. most of them with her eyes but she also did one where she would clear her throat.

The more I tried to get her to stop.. the worse they became.
I took her to the doctor and he said that they would stop and not to worry.
I took her to the eye doctor to check her vision.
I also took her to counseling. Not only for the ticks but also bc we have lost three grandparents in 6 years and had a lot of grief/anger issues.

Here is what I learned about my daughter. I totally believe they were stress related. She is a very Type A child. She was very stressed by switching classes and making sure she had all of her supplies and turning in her papers on time.
I also made sure she was drinking plenty of water .. I felt like part of it was dehydration and being tired did make it worse.

She no longer tics constantly.. I have seen her do it on occasion but nothing like last year where the tics would last for weeks.

Hope this helps.

I would create a good relationship with the doctor's nurse, first off. My ped's nurse saved my life and she was much more patient with me and never accused me of overreacting. I would call and ask about this. It could be nothing or it could be a sign of a neurological problem. It never hurts to be overprotective of your child. Insist that the nurse or doctor listen to the whole problem before they answer you. If you don't feel they listened on the phone call, schedule an appointment. You need the peace of mind of an expert opinion.

Good luck.

D. Kimbriel
Grandma to 2 beautiful boys

My 11-year old son has experienced episodes of these a few times. I did take him to the pediatrician once, and he said they looked like a "tick". I have noticed they definitely get worse during periods where he gets really tired--and when he is at the tv/computer/video games a lot. Usually, when he has them and we get him to rest his eyes more, they do get better. He also has some allergies/asthma, so it could have something to do with that too.


I work with a little girl that does that sometimes.... like when she pauses to think her eyes roll up in her head and she blinks a few times... and shes 5! Her parents never mentioned it being any kind of health issue, and she is otherwise fine... If it were me, I'd ask his pediatrician just to be sure, and then enjoy his individuality!

Yep, it is a tic. Sounds like my son's when it started at about 6 years old. He did grow out of continuously doing it but continued to do it when in periods of high stress. I am not saying high stress caused it but it did aggravate it. He is 18 now and highly successful at school and only very rarely does it now. Bummer, I know, but of all the things that could have been really, this isn't so bad. He is really tring to stop it mom, but it is not something that he can control that easy. Be patient and supportive and remind him there are others who have tics too and are still successful and happy. Tics are common for boys his age.

You've had some good answers. My son developed eye tics (not ticks) and then whole body ones. We went to the ped and nuerologist. Basic outline of what they said is tey can come and go on their on. For some stress makes them worse. Also, asked if he had strep recently.. apparently, there is a link b/w that and tics. We're also getting a btrain wave test to rule other things out per the Nuerologist.

At first, I thought he wasdoign them on purpose... now we don't focus much on them. Also, we started him on some magnesium supplements -on our own, but you should talk to your doctor about dosage - which I think helped.

Good luck.

i hate to be a stick in the mud, but i just want to put out there to ensure your son has good health insurance (not tied to anyone's employment) and possibly even life insurance **PRIOR** to seeking out a diagnosis that could even remotely end up being seizures. once that diagnosis gets in a medical record, it's bad-news-bears for qualifying as an independent for an insurance policy or even life insurance coverage as an adult.
hopefully it's nothing but a tick though, so our prayers are with you!

Ticks can be caused by neurological issues. Has your child hit his head lately? The area going over the top of your head above the ears is called the sensory motor strip and every part of your body connects to the brain along that strip. We have been able to correct tics with neurofeedback. Ticks can also result from an adverse drug reaction - has he started any medication recently? If they have gone on for several months I would advise you get some medical attention. Dr. Bullard is well versed in this area. If you want to talk off line call me, ###-###-####.
L. Richardson, Clinical Director, TheBrainInstitute

Hi - when this occurs, does is your son aware that it is occurring or does he seem to be "out of it?"

This is strictly "internet advice" and I have never seen your son, but I would certainly call your doctor if he seems to momentarily slip out of consciousness. This could be some type of seizure disorder. My brother and I both suffered from seizures and when I read your e-mail, it immediately triggered this response. Mine seizures happened in particular, when I was tired. Please contact your doctor and monitor him closely until you know what is wrong as you don't want him to hurt himself. Talk to his teachers too and see if they have noticed this behaviour.

with the eyes "rolling back" - i'd get him into a pedi and/or neuro ASAP. it may just be a "tic", but it also sounds like it could be some type of mini-seizure. i'd rather over react and be wrong than under react and wait it out and end up having been right. good luck!

I got an eye "tick" when I was in college. My doctor said it was a virus and would probably go away. It lasted a few weeks and then did go away.


Hi Amanda - lots of good advice. My son also has periodically had tics - all last year throughout Kindergarten, but haven't seen any much at all this year. Another thing (I didn't see mentioned) - I recently read about Omega 3 supplementation as well for improving tics. I am a pediatric occupational therapist and also a wellness educator with Juice Plus. We had mostly been doing flax oil and occasionally fish oils, but after he had his tics for a year or so, I started consistently giving him the full recommended dose of Omega 3 fish oils (Nordic Naturals or Dr.Sears) and ensured consistency with his Juice Plus. I haven't seen a tic in months. I don't know if this did it or not - but I'm not stopping! :) Just some thoughts... feel free to write with any questions!

Dear Amanda,

Many kids get tics and outgrow them. After 1 year, the ticks are considered chronic. My son has tics; they were at their worst at about age 10. Now that he is thirteen we seldom notice them. My older son developed tics also around third grade, but has no problems at all at age 17.

There is medication available for tics that are very problematic - my older son used these briefly. My older son had a spitting tic that we did not understand. He was punished at home and school. This severely aggravated his tics and behavior. Talking to his teacher didn't help. I felt attacked (she said that it was not a tic - he was just a brat). That is when we put him on medication. His teacher apologized, and noticed that he became one of her nicest, most well-behaved students. After we got over that hump, we all learned that when he feels loved and accepted, tics and all, he just blooms, so ignore the tics and give him lots of positive attention unless they begin to take a toll on him. Ironically, trying to stop tics usually aggravates them. Tics have caused my children pain and muscle spasms. If this is the case, or if they are causing social problems, you may want to explore medical treatment.

PS. Don't be surprised if one tic resolves and another one begins. Some tics will may more alarming than others. For about three weeks, my older son pulled out his hair and for about a month, me younger one flapped his arms, pulled back his head, and "barked". Thankfully, they are long gone.


My daughter use to roll her eyes very often like you describe. The only difference was that she said she wasn't aware of it. I would advice you to to have this checked out by your doctor. My daughter had a seizure this past Feb. and was diagnoised with epilepsy. Her neruo. doc said that these eye-rolling episodes could have been a type of seizure. Since beginning her medication she hasn't had many episodes. My prayers are with you and your son.

My daughter developed a motor tic (constant double blinking) when she was about 20 months old (which is pretty young for tics to develop). We took her to her ped who said it may go away but that it was likely that when this tic went away, it would just turn into another tic (shoudler tic, throwing head back, etc.). She said there really is not anything to do and that there would not be a reason to worry or go to a neurologist unless my daughter developed a verbal/oral tic simultaneously with her motor tic. This never happened. In fact, my daughter's tic went away after a couple of months and she has been fine every since (knock on wood).

Did this start when the weather got cold? When we run our heaters in the winter, it really dries out the air, which could be drying out his eyes. Or, it could just be something as simple as it's a reaction he does when he's thinking intently about something. I often close my eyes or look at a distant object when I'm thinking/analyzing something.

Hi, Amanda:
I don't want to alarm you but my daughter had the same thing when she was about nine years old and we tried to make her concious of it and she could not control it and when she was tired it was worse. Then at ten she had a very bad seizure (Grand Mal) We rushed her to ER and after testing found out it was Benign Epilepsy. We had no warning or clue-except the eye tick. You can have a very simple test done. It is a sleep test with wires glued to their head. You sleep deprive them the night before (we went to Children's) to see if he has epilepsy and take medication. she never had another seizure and with this type of epilepsy it goes away when they hit puberty. Also we were advised to have our other children tested around age nine to treat it early before they had a seizure. I had 3 children and none of the others had this. My daughter is 20 now and could stop her medication soon after she started her period. Life was normal but we noticed that if she didn't get her rest it would trigger the eye tick. So we had to make sure she got plenty of rest.Which when they have friends over was a little challenging. But I would not worry just be proactive and set your mind at rest.

Hi A., My son did the same thing when he was in first grade now in fifth. We went to a neurologist and they said it was ABSANCE seizures. The doctor said it was common for boys and what triggers it was there activeness when we were in the doctor office he had my son do a fast activity and sure enough he had one in front of him. They gave us a medication he had to take three times a day its a powder and you could put it in a drink even. My son stopped having them two years later and the dr. even said they grow out of it by the age of 9 or 10 after taking the medication. You received alot of options I would just mention it to the pedi they will recommend you to a neurologist.

Both of my sons have exhibited different "ticks" at different times. My oldest son usually has ticks that are associated with his mouth and tongue noises. My younger one has an eye twitch/blinking tick. It does get worse when they are tired, but with my oldest son, it was worse when stress and tension in the home were up. I also made it worse by bringing attention to it and trying to get him to stop. The noises are SO irritating and at times I thought he was doing it to aggrevate me. Over time I've realized they are involuntary and I only make it worse by noticing it. Once I would make myself back off and try to lessen the stress in the house the ticks would eventually slow down, and for now they have stopped. All you can do is "nothing" so to speak. Most grow out of occasional ticks and some people continue to have them into adulthood. Unless it interferes with normal life, there is no treatment besides having adequate rest and less stress.

He could be having what are called "petit mal" seizures. These are usually noticed as little staring spells. See if your doctor will order an EEG to determine if he is having possible seizures.

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