Itchy, red eyes are an uncomfortable, unpleasant nuisance. Itchy eyes may be annoying, but there are many common causes of itchiness that are easy to self-diagnose and treat.
What is causing your eye discomfort? Read on to learn the 10 reasons why your eyes might be itchy.
- Seasonal allergies
Pollen and ragweed, as well as other seasonal allergens, can wreak havoc on your eyes. For many people, seasonal allergies are worst during the fall or the spring. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, try taking a daily antihistamine to prevent hours of discomfort, sneezing, and itchy eyes. A visit to the doctor for allergy testing may also help. Knowing what you are allergic to helps avoid the allergen, and therefore the itchy eyes!
- Indoor allergies
Possibly even worse than seasonal allergies are indoor allergies. While seasonal allergies cause misery to sufferers, there is some comfort in knowing that when the season ends, so will that misery. Indoor allergy sufferers, who may be allergic to dust mites, mold, or other common allergens, have to learn to cope year-round. Antihistamines can help with eye itchiness in this case, but must be taken daily for maximum effectiveness.
- Pet allergies
While most pet allergies are known by childhood, it is possible to develop pet allergies as an adult. You may be a faithful cat or dog owner and not even realize that the source of your itchy, irritated eyes is your furry best friend! Some people with mild allergies to pet dander can happily remain in a household with the allergy-causing pet with proper medication, but severe allergies are not only uncomfortable, they can be dangerous.
Dry eyes can be itchy eyes, and eye dryness has a number of potential causes. It might be cigarette smoke. It might be your climate. It might be a symptom of a different disease, like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Artificial tear eyedrops can help with eye lubrication to prevent excessive dryness and itchiness from occurring.
- Conjunctivitis (pinkeye)
Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pinkeye, is a common and very contagious eye condition caused by certain bacteria, viruses, allergies, and irritants. Conjunctivitis requires an eye exam for diagnosis and treatment. If you notice symptoms of pinkeye, you should immediately contact an eye doctor. If you do not already have an established eye doctor, consider scheduling a Costco eye exam.
- Cold or flu virus
Similar to allergies, the cold or flu virus can also cause eye itchiness. Because our eyes and nose are so closely linked by our sinuses, discomfort to the respiratory system can often trigger eye discomfort as well. Viruses can be treated but not cured by anything but time, but if the eye itchiness lasts even after the sneeze and cough are gone, it might have become a bacterial infection. Make sure to visit your eye doctor or general practitioner to catch any possible infections before they become unmanageable.
- Ill-fitting contact lenses
Contact lenses are a very common cause of eye itchiness. This can happen for a number of reasons: the prescribed lens size doesn’t fit well, the lens had debris on it prior to applying to the eye, the lenses are old and need to be replaced, or the lenses were slept in, just to name a few of the possibilities. Eye infections and eye itchiness can occur from improper contact lens wear, and some eye infections, if left untreated, can be very serious.
- Stye or other infection
Eye itchiness can also be caused by styes. A stye causes eye symptoms including itchiness, but is usually harmless—unless it lingers and becomes infected. To treat from home, try a warm compress or a gentle massage around the eye area. A doctor may prescribe medicated eye drops to speed up recovery. To avoid risk of complication, discontinue contact lens use and eye makeup application until the stye is no longer symptomatic.
- Screen work
Many of us spend our entire day behind a computer screen, and then go home to watch TV, and then fall asleep replying to emails from our smartphones. Our eyes are experiencing screen strain from every direction. Try taking “eye breaks” every hour: step away from the screens and talk to someone face-to-face, go for a walk, or simply rest your eyes. You can also try eye exercises that might help eye strain, and in turn, help the itchiness and redness.
- Irritating products
People with sensitive eyes may notice that certain products cause itchiness. Common culprits include mascara, eyeliner, perfumes, and even over-the-counter eye drops that are marketed to relieve itchiness! Discontinue use of any suspected products that may be causing your itchiness to see if the problem resolves on its own.
Eye itchiness can be a pain, but now that you know these 10 reasons why your eyes might be itchy, you can take necessary precautions to avoid complication.