Why are My Eyes Itchy?
Itchy eyes may not be a serious cause for concern, but they can be very uncomfortable.
There are many reasons why your eyes may be itchy. Some reasons are more serious than others.
10 Causes of Itchy Eyes
Here are 10 reasons why your eyes might feel itchy:
1. Allergies and Irritants
Allergies range from seasonal allergies to perennial allergies.9
Seasonal allergies can occur if your body reacts to seasonal allergens like pollen in the air. Symptoms like itchy eyes are triggered by histamine, which is a compound your cells release to protect you against allergens.9
Perennial allergies are ongoing. They occur come from allergens like dust, mold, and pet dander.9
Other irritants that can cause your eyes to feel itchy include:
- Diesel exhaust
- Smells from certain foods
- Certain perfumes
2. Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is characterized by dry eyes. Dry eye syndrome can range from mild to severe.3
Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include itchiness, redness, and blurry vision.3
3. Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is a condition in which the meibomian glands don’t secrete enough oil. It can also mean these glands secrete poor-quality oil.7
When your eyes don’t have enough moisture, they can feel itchy.
Blepharitis refers to inflammation of the eyelids. It can make your eyes feel dry.2
Blepharitis is a common disorder. It’s caused by bacteria or other skin conditions, including dandruff or rosacea.2
5. Irritation From Contact Lenses
Contact lenses can cause discomfort if they don’t fit right or need to be replaced. They can also make your eyes feel itchy. Soft contact lenses or eyeglasses may be better than rigid contacts.
6. Pink Eye
Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an eye condition characterized by inflammation and redness. It’s an infection of the conjunctiva, the transparent membrane that lines your eyelid and the white of your eyeball.8
Besides redness, itchiness is the most common symptom of pink eye.
7. Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a chronic condition. It can cause your eyes to become dry.11
Atopic dermatitis is common in young kids, but it can happen to anyone of any age.11
Eczema flare-ups can be uncomfortable, but they aren’t contagious.11
8. Atopic Keratoconjunctivitis
Atopic keratoconjunctivitis refers to a chronic allergic condition of the eyelids. It can also affect the front surface of your eyes, causing them to feel itchy.1
People with atopic dermatitis are at a higher risk of developing atopic keratoconjunctivitis.1
9. Vernal Keratoconjunctivitis
Vernal keratoconjunctivitis refers to a seasonally recurring and severe type of allergic reaction. It causes inflammation of the ocular surface of your eyes. Itchiness can be a symptom.10
If left untreated, this allergic eye disease can also lead to corneal scarring and vision loss.10
10. Certain Medications
Certain medications like some birth controls and depression and anxiety medications can cause symptoms like itchy eyes.4, 5
How to Relieve Itchy Eyes
Itchy eyes aren’t usually a big deal, but they can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are ways to relieve them.
Here are some home remedies for relieving itchy eyes:6
- Place cold compresses on your eyes with a damp washcloth or cool gel pads
- Wash your face with a fragrance-free soap to remove any irritants or debris in your eyes
- Remove any makeup that may be causing your itchy eyes with a gentle cleanser
- Use over-the-counter artificial tears to moisturize your eyes
- Use allergy drops or anti-inflammatory eye drops to relieve redness, swelling, and itchiness
- Use a contact lens solution to fight dry eyes that can become itchy from contacts
- Take oral medications for allergies during allergy season
- Wear eye protection when you’re outside to safeguard your eyes from irritants and allergens
There are some professional treatments to help relieve itchy eyes, as well.
- An eye doctor may prescribe you medicated eye drops to relieve itchy eyes
- You can talk to your eye doctor about switching from contact lenses to prescription glasses if your contacts are causing discomfort
- If your itchy eyes are a symptom of a medication, like birth control, talk to your doctor about alternative treatments
If your itchy eyes don’t improve in a few days, or if they’re getting worse, talk to your doctor
Tips for Preventing Itchy Eyes
Here are some steps you can take to prevent itchy eyes:6
- Avoid touching your face or rubbing your eyes. Irritants on your hands can get into your eyes and make them itchy.
- Take allergy medications. If you’re someone with seasonal allergies, over-the-counter medication can help.
- Keep your house clean. Cleanliness helps you stop allergens like dust and mold from irritating your eyes.
- Wash your hands. Keeping your hands clean helps avoid bacteria and other germs in your eyes.
- Change your contact lenses. If you wear dailies, make sure to change your contacts daily.
Itchy eyes may not be cause for concern, but they can be very uncomfortable. Follow the above tips for relieving and preventing itchy eyes.
Call your doctor if your itchy eyes don’t get any better or if they get worse.
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