If you ever feel an itch in your eyes, you would be undoubtedly restless and have a sensation to rub or scratch your eyes to get relief from the irritating sensation. In medical terminology, this phenomenon is known by experts as ocular pruritus.
There are many factors that could cause an itch to the eye(s). The problem is usually accompanied with red eyes or the swollen eyelids.
Most of the time, the itch is located in the corners of your eyes. Itchy eyes are not usually very serious to your vision or long-term eye health. However, sometimes itchy eyes with inflammation are quite problematic.
Some allergies generally cause itchiness, redness, watery discharge and can cause a burning sensation on the eyes. Itch causing substances are called allergens, which can be pollen, dust or animal dander. These allergens bring about the release of compounds, called histamines, in the tissues around the eyes. These histamines cause redness, swelling, and itching. There are also airborne irritants, for example, cigarette smoke, pollution and engine exhaust.
Types of Allergies
There are two types of allergies of the eye; seasonal and non-seasonal. The non-seasonal allergy can prevail in the eyes for a longer time than a season.
A Seasonal allergy is common in the spring and fall seasons. This type of allergy is due to high pollen counts and the outdoor allergens like weeds and grass.
A Non-seasonal allergy is due to dust, mould and pollutants. This kind of allergy can present itself throughout the year.
Usage of Some Products
Some everyday products that you use can cause an allergy to your eyes. For instance, contact lens solutions can result in an allergic reaction in the eyes. Sometimes the artificial tears that are used for the treatment of dry eyes can cause an itch to the eyes. For some people, makeup, lotions, creams, and soaps can also act as allergens to some extent.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome can cause an itchy and burning sensation in the eyes. The tear-producing glands keep your eyes moist and healthy. When they do not produce enough tears to moisten your eyes, you may feel soreness, sensitivity to light, dryness and itchiness, especially in the corners.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is caused when the gland, which produces the oily layer of tears, is not correctly working. These glands are located in the upper and lower eyelids. Along with itchiness and dryness, your eyes can be sore and swollen.
Dacryocystitis is the condition where the tear drainage system is infected. The nasal polyps may cause the trauma to the nose, which results in the blockage in the tear drainage system. With such condition, you can feel an itchy and painful sensation in the corner of your eyes. Sometimes, if an Infant has very narrow lacrimal ducts blockages and infections can occur. However, such complications disappear in children over time.
Sometimes condition Blepharitis leads to the state of red and inflamed eyelids. Such condition is due to bacteria or some microscopic mites that live on the eyelids.
If you wear contact lenses for long periods of time, this will lead to fatigue and cause dry eye symptoms which can cause an itchy sensation. It is important that you replace your lenses regularly given extended use beyond recommended time frames can make your eyes itchy. If you do not sanitise your contact lenses before wearing, then it can be problematic as foreign bodies will accumulate and microbes will growth which can cause itchiness and may lead to an infection. The interference of lenses with tear production in your eye can itself also cause itchiness in the corners of your eyes. If the sensation of something is in your eye after removing your lenses, then it is advisable to use artificial tears as this is likely to be due to dry eyes which will cause an itchy sensation.
You can adapt the precautionary measures for prevention of itchy eyes which solely depend on its root cause. Therefore, It is mandatory to consult a doctor or eye specialist for better advice.
Some of the preventions are the following
- If you live in a dry area, then use a humidifier at home.
- You should regularly and carefully clean the filters in humidifiers.
- You should change the filters in the air conditioning and heating systems regularly, as instructed by the manufacturers.
- You should not rub your eyes. If the eyes are sore, place a cool relaxing compress on eyes for 10 minutes.
- Avoid smoking or smoke-filled areas.
- You should avoid scented candles given they can irritate the eyes. Scented candles not only pollute the air with soot but the smell is usually produced by chemicals that have irritants.
- A healthy diet that is rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids.
- When pollen levels are high, you should avoid going outside.
- Use eye protection in the dusty, sandy or dirty environments.
Use goggles when swimming and doing water sports.
- During the windy seasons avoid direct wind in the eyes.
Wear sunglasses when in the Sun and on the beach.
Putting a clean, cold, damp washcloth over your closed eyes, will relieve the severity of itchy eyes.
Tea Bag Treatment
If you take two tea bags and dip in cool or warm water and stir them as if you were making tea. Then you squeeze the liquid from the bags and place them in a warm or cool state on the closed eyes for 30 minutes.
Consulting an Eye Specialist
A most effective way to cure itchy eyes is to consult with your eye doctor so that treatments can directly address the actual reason for itchy eyes. For instance, in the case of a dry eye syndrome, allergy drops will not be useful instead it would be best for seasonal allergies.
Some medications can protect you from future attacks of itchy eyes, especially for seasonal allergies.
Although there are numerous medications to help relieve ocular itching, only the eye doctor knows which treatment or combination of treatments would be best to cure your particular eye problem. Sometimes, artificial tears or allergy drops cure itchy eyes effectively. However, in some conditions, the remedy for itchy eyes cane be an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory medication or special eyelid cleansing products.
The 20-20-20 rule
Spending too long on a computer, devices or gaming can cause eye strain which can make your eyes itchy at night. To avoid the itchiness caused by eyestrain try to follow the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of screen time, people should look away from the screen and look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds, which will allow the eyes to relax and refocus.
Do not rub eyes
Always keep in mind that if you have an itchy sensation in your eyes, never rub them. If you rub your eyes, it will release more histamine, which may worsen potential irritation or may cause a corneal abrasion or introduce bacteria to your eyes that can lead to an eye infection.