Rubbing your eyes? Don't do it!

Almost everyone experiences itchy eyes from time to time.

Most of the time, itchy eyes are caused by some type of allergy. An irritating substance such as pollen, dust and animal dander — causes the release of compounds called histamines in the tissues around the eyes, which results in itching, redness and swelling.

Rubbing won't help your itchy eyes. In fact, it can make things worse.

Seasonal allergies cause what's known as allergic conjunctivitis. It's most common in the spring and fall and is caused by high pollen counts and exposure to outdoor allergens like grass and weeds.

Perennial allergies, on the other hand, are present all year long and are caused by things like mold and dust.

If you wear contact lenses, itchy eyes can make lens wear very uncomfortable. Sometimes, if you are wearing your contacts too long or don't replace them frequently enough, this too can cause itchy eyes. Some people develop allergies to their contact lens solutions. Other products with ingredients that may cause your eyes to itch include: artificial tears used to treat dry eyes; makeup; and lotions, creams and soaps.

If (in addition to itching) your eyes are burning, the cause may be dry eye syndrome not allergies. Similarly, if your eyelids are red and inflamed, you may have a condition called blepharitis, which is caused by bacteria and in some cases by microscopic mites that live on the eyelids.

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Although it's tempting, don't rub itchy eyes. Rubbing releases more histamines that make the itching worse. It's also possible to cause a corneal abrasion by rubbing your eyes too vigorously or introduce bacteria to your eyes that can lead to an eye infection.

Because the causes for itchy eyes are so varied, if your symptoms are lasting, getting worse, or don't subside when allergy season winds down, its best make an appointment with your specialist optometrist to determine the cause and proper management of your eye condition.

Article written by

Mr K.Lakhani BSC MCOptom Dip Tp Ip

Specialist Optometrist.

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