By Medicover Hospitals / 08 Mar 2021
Itchy eyes are very common, and we've probably all had itchy eyes. The medical term for itchy eyes is eye pruritus. Itchy eyes are usually caused by an allergy or a condition called dry eye syndrome. You can also have itching of the eyelids, at the base of the eyelashes, and your eyes or eyelids can be swollen.
- What is Itchy Eyes?
- When to visit a Doctor?
- Home Remedies
What is Itchy Eyes?
Itchy eyes are extremely uncomfortable. The worst part is that you really can't scratch at random. Depending on the cause of the itching, the consequences of rubbing or scratching range from simply increased irritation, to the spread of germs and infection, to ultimately damaging your delicate eyeball. When the eyes itch from environmental allergies, for example, rubbing and scratching can release more histamines and make the itching worse.
About 50% of people with allergic conjunctivitis, who are young adults, have other allergic conditions or a family history of allergies. About 80% of eye allergies are seasonal; the others are perennial (all year round). Symptoms are itchy and red eyes, tearing, edema (swelling) of the conjunctiva or eyelid, and mucous discharge. Though it may be uncomfortable, this is not a threat to your vision.
- This is the most common cause. Your eyes may react to something in the air outside, in your home, or in the office. These allergens can include:
- External substances: pollen from trees, grasses, weeds, and shrubs
- Indoor substances: dust mites, fungi, molds, and small pieces of animal skin (animal dander)
- Substances of human origin: tobacco smoke, perfume, chemicals, and exhaust gases
The most common is pinkeye or conjunctivitis. It simply means inflammation of the conjunctiva or the inner wall of the eye. Anyone can get it, but it happens mostly in children. Your eyes may be red and swollen. The pus can stick to your eyelids while you sleep. Bacteria usually causes a pink eye that has a discharge. In rare cases, a virus can also do this. Allergies can sometimes inflame the conjunctiva. It's more likely to cause mucus, not pus.
It is an inflammation of the eyelids. It happens when tiny sebaceous glands at the base of your eyelashes become blocked. Your eyes may be red and itchy. It's difficult to get rid of, but it is not contagious and rarely affects your eyesight. Allergies or skin conditions such as acne or dermatitis can make it worse.
Mucus, oils, water, and protein help fill your tears. When you don't have the right amount, you could get dry eyes. It can irritate your eyes.
A stable gear of sand or sand caught under the eyelid is sufficient. If antibiotic eye drops aren't helping a suspected infection, it may be a little dirt in your eyes.
Sometimes your eyes cannot say that your contacts are meant to be there. So they treat them like a foreign substance. Maybe it's because they don't fit the right way. You will probably notice this right after you put them in place. Contact lenses can also trap the seeds or germs that lead to infection. Regular cleaning and changing of your contact lenses can assist you.
Your doctor might call it keratitis. Very dry eyes, injury, or infection can lead to small sores or ulcers on the cornea. It's the clear lens that covers the front of your eye. They can irritate your eyes and cause pus and scabs.
People with persistent itchy eyes at night should see an eye specialist to diagnose the cause.
A doctor will probably start by looking at the person's medical history and signs. The doctor will then likely do a physical exam, which includes checking the person's eyes and eyelids. If there is a discharge on the person's eyelids, the doctor may take a sample of the discharge with a swab and send it to a lab for analysis.
If a doctor suspects that an allergy is causing itchy eyes, they may do a patch test. They may also recommend a follow-up visit with an ophthalmologist.
Symptoms of itchy eyes can sometimes be alleviated with over-the-counter artificial tears or allergy eye drops. But in many cases, prescription eye drops or oral medications may be needed to relieve itchy eyes. Certain medications can also help you become less prone to itchy eye attacks in the future, especially if the symptoms are due to seasonal allergies.
Applying a clean, cold, damp washcloth to your closed eyes can also help lessen the severity of itchy eyes.
The most effective treatments for itchy eyes are those that directly attack the cause. For example, if your symptoms are associated with dry eye, an allergy drop will be less effective for you than it will be for someone whose itchy eyes are due to seasonal allergies.
For this reason, consulting your optician can be very helpful in determining the most effective remedy for itchy eyes.
There are many types of drugs that can help in relieving itchy eyes, but only your optician will know which treatment or combination of treatments is best for your specific needs. In some cases, itchy eyes can be cured with artificial tears or allergy drops. But in others, you may need an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory medication, or special eyelid cleansers.
When to visit a Doctor?
Most cases of itchy eyes don't last very long and may even go away on their own.
If you experience any of the above signs, stop home treatments immediately and see your doctor.
- to be sure, see a doctor if:
- you feel there is something lodged in your eyes
- an eye infection develops
- your vision starts to get worse
- your itchy eyes turn into moderate to severe eye pain
Some home remedies that help in treating itchy eyes:
The 20-20-20 rule:
- Spending too much time on a computer or doing other activities that can cause eye strain can make your eyes itchy at night. People with itchy eyes can try following the 20-20-20 rule to reduce eye strain.
- Every 20 minutes of computer work, people should look away from the screen and stare at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds, which will allow the eyes to relax.
Warm and cool compresses:
People can try applying a compress for immediate relief from itchy eyes. Warm compresses on the eyes can help relieve itching from allergies. If the itchy eyes are hot and swollen, a cold compress on the eyes may help relieve the itchiness.
Keeping the eye area clean:
- Dirt, chemicals, and makeup can all cause itchy eyes.
- Keeping your eyes clean at night can help relieve itching. First, a person may need to rinse the irritant from the eye with cold water to clean the eye area.
- Sometimes rinsing the eyes gently with lukewarm water on a washcloth may be sufficient.
- People who wear makeup should consider removing makeup before cleaning their eyes.
Using a Humidifier:
Dry air can make your eyes itchy because it can dry out the eyes. People with itchy eyes may want to use a humidifier in their bedroom, especially during winter or in dry climates.
Discontinue contact lens use:
- Wearing contact lenses can cause itchy eyes even at night. Some people may wear their contact lenses overnight, which can lead to further itching.
- Contact lens users who have itchy eyes at night might consider removing their contact lenses to give their eyes a break until the itching stops.
- Also, changing the type of contact lenses a person wears can help. A disposable contact lens can help prevent future eye irritation, which can lead to itchy eyes at night.
- People with allergies should take steps to avoid allergens that cause itchy eyes at night.
- Sleeping with windows closed, for example, can help reduce exposure to pollen and other outdoor allergens that can make your eyes itchy.
- Keeping pets out of the bedroom can help reduce the number of dander people come in contact with at night. Regularly dusting and changing the sheets can also help limit dust mites.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Signs of itchy eyes include:
- Clear, watery discharge
- Runny nose
- Green or yellow pus
If you wear contact lenses, it is important to change them as often as prescribed. Allergens and bacterial products can stick to soft contact lenses, resulting in itchy eyes. Maintaining contact lens hygiene is very important.
Itchy eyes, especially in the inner corners, are usually because the eyes are dry. Itchy eyes from allergies (i.e., allergic conjunctivitis) are usually associated with a white stringy discharge or seasonal nasal allergies.
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