Causes of itchy eyes and how to relieve discomfort

16 February 2021

Author: Kate Green

itchy dry eyes

What are the causes of dry, itchy eyes?


Having itchy eyes is highly irritating and, if it persists for hours at a time, it can begin to affect your whole day. It might start to impact your work and social life, particularly if it feels uncomfortable and leaves you with red, watery eyes. There are actually several different types of itchy eyes, each caused by varying factors. You might have irritated eyes due to:

  • Contact lenses
  • Blepharitis
  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Infections
  • Allergies
  • Airborne irritants


Symptoms that come alongside itchy eyes can be severe redness, dryness or alternatively very watery eyes. This happens because your eye recognises a foreign object (like dust particles) in your eye, and attempts to flush it out. Watery eyes can actually be a symptom of itchy dry eyes too, as your tears may not contain enough of the natural lubricating component, so your eyes overcompensate by producing yet more tears.


Thankfully, there are remedies available to treat itchy eyes and their number of causes.


Remedies for itchy, dry eyes


The treatment for your itchy eyes will vary depending on the cause. Sometimes, you’ll know what the cause of the discomfort is, whether it’s that you’re allergic to a particular perfume or shampoo, or perhaps it’s pollen causing hay fever, in turn irritating your eyes. Read on to discover which treatments will work best for your itchy eyes, depending on the cause.


  1. Contact lenses

Some people are contact lens intolerant. This means that their eyes don’t respond well to contact lenses, as they might be allergic to either an ingredient in the contact lens solution, or even the material of the lens itself. An option to tackle this is to speak to your optician and try alternative contact lens solutions to see if this eradicates the problem. If this doesn’t work, you might want to think about switching to glasses or even opting for laser eye surgery. Contact lenses bring a whole host of risks, including bad reactions to lenses, which can be bypassed with laser eye surgery.


  1. Blepharitis

Blepharitis is a relatively common condition causing crusting and inflammation of the eyelids. It occurs when the oil glands along the edge of the eyelid become blocked. Blepharitis often leads to sore eyes and occasionally swelling or even discolouration under the eyelids. In some cases, this may cause blurry or distorted vision. At Optimax, we offer blepharitis treatment to ease the symptoms and treat the cause of the condition. It can usually be treated with lid therapy and artificial tear and gel supplements.


  1. Dry eye syndrome

Dry eye is a common eye condition whereby the eyes do not produce enough tears to be sufficiently lubricated. This occurs for a number of reasons, as well as occurring naturally with age, and can cause several uncomfortable symptoms. Cutting down on your screen time and quitting smoking is proven to help, as well as moving from contact lenses to glasses. Most commonly, using eye drops helps the symptoms of dry eye syndrome, including reducing red eyes, itchiness, and the gritty sensation that comes with it.


  1. Infections

The most common eye infection is conjunctivitis, which is also sometimes referred to as pink eye. During this infection, your eye becomes inflamed and itchy, often accompanied with a sore or burning feeling and excess discharge. Your eyes may stick together and become difficult to open due to the extra eye gunk. You might need antibiotics to help clear the infection while using cold compresses should help the soreness. Conjunctivitis usually clears up in around a week but you should visit your optician to seek their advice if think you might have it.


  1. Allergies

If your eyes become itchy and irritated at the same time of year repeatedly, you likely have seasonal allergies such as hay fever. Your eyes become inflamed as your body tries to fight the particular type of pollen which you’re allergic to. You might also suffer with excessive sneezing, a sore throat and blocked nose during this time. There are antihistamine medications which can help to reduce your symptoms, as well as prescription allergy medication which you should be able to receive after visiting your doctor. Further advice for hay fever-induced itchy eyes is to wash any clothes which have been exposed to pollen more frequently, to keep windows and doors closed, and not go outside on days when the pollen count is high.


  1. Airborne irritants

Airborne irritants include things like smoke or products such as perfume and hairspray. These types of substances would irritate your eyes if they were directly exposed to them. Generally, rinsing your eyes as soon as possible after exposure and keeping a cold compress on your eye is the best way to tackle the irritation. You could also use eye drops to help further flush out the irritant and keep your eyes healthy. Itchy eyes caused by airborne irritants shouldn’t last for longer than a few hours if you are able to rinse your eyes quickly.


Itchy dry eyes are a nuisance but they can be treated with the above remedies. Remember to seek advice from your optician if you are worried about the condition of your eyes.

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