Causes of Itchy and Dry Eyes
Itchy and dry eyes can be a frustrating experience. The cause of this condition can vary depending on the individual, as well as the environment they are in. Common causes include allergies, contact lens use, seasonal changes, or medications.
In this article, we’ll explore the various causes of itchy and dry eyes:
Allergies are a common cause of itchy and dry eyes. Allergic reactions to environmental agents, such as animal dander, dust mites, mold and pollen, can lead to inflammation of the eye area and result in redness, itching and swollen eyelids. Eye allergies are also known as allergic conjunctivitis.
Eye allergies usually cause a watery discharge from the eyes. This occurs when your body releases proteins called histamines which tell your body to fight off foreign material that is causing an allergic reaction. The clumping of these proteins in the eyes can cause swelling of the tissue and itching leading to eye discomfort.
If you’re experiencing itchy and dry eyes caused by allergies, seek treatment from your doctor to determine what type of allergen is causing your symptoms and how best to treat them. Treatment may include prescription or over-the-counter antihistamines or eye drops that contain anti-inflammatory agents for relief from irritation, swelling and redness.
Dehydration is one of the most common culprits for itchy and dry eyes, with symptoms including blurry vision, redness, eye strain and burning. It occurs when there is a lack of water or moisture in the eyes to keep them feeling lubricated. Dehydration can be caused by inadequate tear production, exposure to environmental irritants such as wind and dust, contact lens use or lack of blinking while staring at a computer screen for long periods of time. Additionally, drinking alcoholic beverages or drinks containing caffeine can dehydrate the body – leading to dry eyes. Therefore it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking at least two liters of water per day and avoiding products that contain alcohol or caffeine which may further aggravate symptoms.
Additionally, avoiding environmental triggers such as extreme heat, wind and dust can help prevent dehydration-induced dry eyes.
Certain medications can cause itchy, dry eyes. Many common medications, such as antibiotics and birth control pills, affect the tear-producing glands in the eyelids. Less commonly, long-term use of some types of antihistamines, beta blockers and other anti-inflammatory medications can also have this effect. If you’re taking any prescription medications that might be causing your symptoms, talk to your doctor about adjusting the dosage or trying an alternative treatment plan.
Other possible causes for itchy and dry eye include:
- Allergies (especially to pollen or air pollution)
- Blepharitis (inflammation on the surface of the eyelids)
- Lack of tears due to age or hormonal changes (known as “dry eye disease”)
- Tear duct blockage caused by certain hormones
- Environmental conditions like windy or cold weather
- Contact lens usage
- Side effects from some medical treatments like chemotherapy or radiation.
Finding out what is causing your symptoms is key in finding a solution. Speak with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any eye related problems that do not seem to go away on their own.
Environmental factors can play a role in causing itchy and dry eyes. In today’s increasingly indoor, air-conditioned society, exposure to lower humidity levels, high dust concentrations and exposure to harmful pollutants are all contributing factors leading to itchy and dry eyes.
When people spend too much time working at computers or staring at digital screens without adequate space for blinking adequately, the result is often eye fatigue in the form of redness, dryness and itchiness.
Pollutants from car exhaust fumes can also affect the eyes when spending too much time outdoors in large cities. Allergies, whether seasonal or perennial, can cause eyes to become very itchy and dry from excessive rubbing.
Finally, certain chemical products such as cleaning agents or certain cosmetic ingredients such as artificial fragrances may lead to itchy and dry eyes.
Symptoms of Itchy and Dry Eyes
Itchy and dry eyes can be a very uncomfortable experience and can interfere with daily activities. There are many symptoms associated with itchy and dry eyes, one of the most common being excessive tearing and redness. Other signs may include burning, stinging, or a feeling of a foreign object in the eye.
In this article, we will explore some of the common symptoms of itchy and dry eyes:
One of the major symptoms of itchy and dry eyes is redness, which is known medically as hyperemia. This is usually a sign of inflammation in the eyes due to lack of lubrication or sensitivity to air or another irritant. Redness may make the eyes feel warm or uncomfortable when touched or blinked. The level of redness will depend on the severity of the condition, but it should generally be treated with lubricating eye drops or ointments if it persists.
Other vision difficulties such as difficulty keeping open or lesions on the surface may also occur but can be effectively addressed by your optometrist in most cases.
A feeling of burning around the eyes can be a symptom of itchy and dry eyes. Many refer to it as a stinging or sandy sensation. Burning can be caused by inflammation, which can be the result of an allergic reaction, chronic dryness, and potential damage from direct sunlight or wind.
Other symptoms of dry eyes may include:
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Blurry vision
- Discharge from the eyes that forms a crusty material around the eyelids overnight (known as rheum)
- Tiredness in the eyes
- Irregular blinking due to an inability for tears to provide enough moisture and lubrication.
If left untreated, itchy and dry eyes can lead to further irritation and eye conditions such as scarring of the eye surface (known as pannus) or corneal abrasion.
It is important to consult with an optometrist if you experience any symptoms of itchy and dry eyes – they will be able to determine if there is a larger issue causing your discomfort. An eye exam will help determine if treatment with prescription eye drops or other medications is necessary in order to restore moisture levels in your eyes.
A common symptom of itchy and dry eyes is a gritty feeling. This feeling may be described as though there is an object, such as sand or dust, in the eye. This sensation can become greater over time and tends to be worse when the eyes have been open for a long time. Itching is also associated with this sensation and can be more severe at certain times of the day.
Other symptoms of itchy and dry eyes include:
- Sensitivity to light
- Excessive tearing
- Reports of blurry vision
Excessive tearing can be a symptom of itchy and dry eyes. It can occur for a few different reasons. For example, it may take place if the eye is trying to increase moisture content due to an inadequate level of tears or because of an underlying condition such as blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids). It’s also possible that you’ll experience increased tearing because your eyes overreact to irritants in the air such as pollen, smoke, or dust.
In addition to excessive tears, itchy and dry eyes can cause several other uncomfortable symptoms such as:
- Blurry vision
- Redness in the whites of your eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Feeling like something is in your eye
- Burning or stinging sensation
These signs and symptoms generally indicate a disruption in tear production or drainage – both of which require proper treatment by your doctor to help relieve discomfort associated with itchy and dry eyes.
Treatments for Itchy and Dry Eyes
If you are experiencing itchy and dry eyes, you might be wondering what the cause is and what treatments are available to help relieve your symptoms. There are a variety of causes and treatments for itchy and dry eyes, ranging from simple home remedies to more extreme medical treatments.
In this article, we will discuss the treatments available for itchy and dry eyes and how to determine which ones are the best for your situation:
Over-the-Counter Eye Drops
Over-the-counter eye drops may provide temporary relief of dry, itchy eyes and some lubricants are suitable for use with contact lenses. These products come in two general types – those that contain preservatives and those that do not.
Preservatives are added to the drops to make them last longer, but they can also irritate the eyes. Using these products more than twice a day may cause even more problems. Nonpreserved drops contain fewer active ingredients, so you will likely need to use them more often (every 20 minutes or so). They’re available in single dose containers or bottles containing several doses.
There is a range of eye drop options available over the counter, but be cautious and discuss any specific medication with your doctor or pharmacist before you buy it. Some commonly used brands may contain ingredients that could cause further complications if used frequently such as:
- Propylene glycol
- Hydroxypropyl cellulose
- Polyethylene glycols
All of which can prove harmful when applied on a regular basis around the eye area.
One of the most common treatments for itchy and dry eyes are artificial tears. Artificial tears typically come in eye drops and ointments, and they contain a mixture of different ingredients to help lubricate the surface of the eye. Unlike natural tears, artificial tear products are designed to remain on the surface of the eye longer, providing long-lasting relief from symptoms such as dryness, stinging, irritation and redness.
Some preservative-free brands may be used as often as needed while other brands should only be used several times during the day depending on instructions provided by your healthcare professional.
Warm compresses can help soothe itchy, dry eyes. To do this, make a warm compress by soaking a clean washcloth in warm water and then ring out the excess liquid. Place the cloth over your closed eyelids for several minutes at a time throughout the day to reduce itching and discomfort.
You may also wet a cotton swab with warm water and gently press it onto closed eyes for a few minutes as an alternative to using a cloth compress. It’s important to make sure that you are using clean materials for your treatments or you may cause further eye irritation.
Prescription Eye Drops
Prescription eye drops, also known as ophthalmic medications, come in many forms and may be used to treat itchy and dry eyes. These medications typically aim to reduce inflammation or irritation that may cause itchiness and dryness. They can also help lubricate the eyes to provide relief from discomfort.
Your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids, antihistamines, cyclosporine A (Restasis), omega fatty acids, and antibiotics for more severe cases. In some instances, artificial tears or eye gels may be recommended for mild symptoms of itchy and dry eyes.
It is important to discuss your symptoms with an eye care professional so they can determine the best treatment plan for you.
Preventing Itchy and Dry Eyes
Itchy and dry eyes can be one of the most bothersome and uncomfortable conditions to deal with. There are several causes and factors that may lead to itchy and dry eyes. Knowing what can cause these conditions can help you take steps to prevent them.
In this article, we will discuss the different causes of itchy and dry eyes and provide tips on how to prevent them.
Protecting your eyes from the sun is important to prevent itchy and dry eyes. Sunglasses with wrap-around frames can help keep the sun’s rays from entering your eyes and provide a physical barrier from air pollution, wind and pollen.
Make sure that you select sunglasses that block at least 99% of both UVA and UVB radiation, as well as 70-90% visible light. Wear a wide brimmed hat for added protection, especially on bright days during long outdoor excursions.
Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes
It can be incredibly tempting to rub your eyes when they’re feeling dry and itchy. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst things you can do. Eye rubbing releases additional histamines, which make the itchiness even worse, and also cause redness. It can also lead to more serious problems by potentially scratching or damaging the eye surface if done too vigorously.
When your eyes are feeling itchy, use lubricating drops instead to help rehydrate the eye surface and reduce inflammation. If nothing soothes the itch or if it persists after applying eye drops or ointments, consult with a physician as soon as possible since this can be an early symptom of a more serious condition like conjunctivitis (pink eye) or allergies.
Avoid Exposure to Pollutants
It’s important to understand the contributing factors of your condition and to try to avoid exposure to pollutants that could exacerbate your symptoms. Pollutants such as smoke, dust, pollen, and other airborne particles can aggravate dry eyes and itching.
If you cook using grease or smoke from grills on a regular basis, it’s best to wear goggles or eye protection to reduce exposure. Dusty areas should be avoided whenever possible, especially those with mold or mildew which can contribute further irritation. Whenever you’re exposed in high concentrations of any of these pollutants for an extended period of time, it’s recommended to use a saline solution or rinsing agent immediately following your exposure.
Polluted air isn’t always easy to detect so if you feel like the indoor air quality of your home could be improved it’s worth investing in an air purifier that removes particles in the air like dust mites and pet dander which can affect eye irritation. Wearing a protective face mask when outdoors on windy days will help keep your eyes from becoming irritated. Additionally, heaters tend to reduce indoor humidity during winter months which can make dry eye symptoms worse; by running a humidifier in your home temperature changes can be lessened and improved comfort for dry eyes is more easily achieved.
Increase Humidity in Your Home
Dry and itchy eyes can be caused by a variety of factors, but one of the major contributors to eye discomfort is a lack of humidity. Elevated air temperatures or season changes in climates with little moisture can lead to dry air that aggravates the eyes.
Installing an indoor humidifier is one great way to increase the moisture content in your home and help relieve symptoms like an itchy, burning sensation in your eyes as well as cracked and peeling skin around them.
Humidifiers work by releasing water vapor into the surrounding atmosphere, increasing indoor humidity to comfortable levels. Depending on your needs, you may wish to install:
- A central humidifier which works with your existing HVAC system
- Individual whole house units split between multiple rooms or locations
- Portable models which are also available at various price points
It’s important to ensure proper maintenance for all types of units: be sure to keep them clean and change filters according to manufacturer instructions. With proper maintenance, increasing humidity levels in your home will improve discomfort caused by dry air, making it easier for you to enjoy clear vision without irritation or fatigue.
When to See a Doctor
If you are experiencing itchiness and dryness in your eye, it is important to figure out the cause in order to address the issue. In most cases, home remedies such as cold compresses and artificial tears can help relieve the symptoms. However, if the symptoms worsen, you should consider seeing a doctor.
In this section, we will discuss when is the best time to visit a doctor for dry, itchy eyes.
If Symptoms Persist
If you are still experiencing symptoms after a few days, or if the irritation begins to become worse or more uncomfortable, it is important that you talk to your doctor. Itchy eyes can be a sign of an underlying medical problem, so talking to your doctor can help give a better understanding about what is causing the irritation.
Your doctor may ask about your symptoms, as well as any family history of eye issues and any medications you may be taking. Based on this information and a physical exam of your eyes and tear ducts, they may recommend further diagnostic tests such as an eye exam or an allergy lash test. They will also eliminate other causes such as contact lens intolerance, dryness due to aging, fungal infection due to poor hygiene or an underlying autoimmune issue like Sjogren’s syndrome.
If the condition is caused by allergies then it might be necessary for doctors to start allergen immunotherapy injections which are administered over 3-5 years until the body develops a tolerance towards the allergen. Taking antihistamines on a daily basis may also be recommended to reduce further irritation.
Your doctor can recommend the best solution for managing your specific condition based on its severity and exact cause. Seek professional medical help if changes in lifestyle and home remedy treatments fail to relieve symptoms after 3-10 days; doing so can prevent possible complications down the road!
If You Experience Severe Eye Pain
If you experience severe pain or visual disturbances in either eye, it is best to seek immediate medical attention. The cause of your symptoms could range from a harmless allergy, to something more serious like an infection or eye injury, and it is important to have a professional diagnose and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.
Additionally, depending on the cause of your symptoms, over-the-counter remedies may not be sufficient for managing itchy and dry eyes. Your doctor can determine the underlying cause and provide a tailored treatment plan that may include medication, lifestyle or environmental changes.
If you find that your vision has changed significantly since the onset of symptoms or any other concerning warning signs occur, it is especially important that you see an optometrist as soon as possible. Other warning signs include:
- Redness in the white part of your eye
- Pain radiating across your face
- Excessive tearing and discharge from either eye
If left untreated, severe eye conditions can lead to permanent vision loss so consult with a medical professional immediately if any alarming symptoms present themselves.
If You Have a Change in Vision
A change in vision could be an indication of a serious underlying eye condition. If you notice a sudden change in your vision and/or the white color of your eyes, accompanied by redness and itching, it could indicate a variety of eye diseases which require immediate medical attention.
For example, uveitis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye and requires prompt treatment to protect your vision. Other signs to look out for include
- blurred vision,
- difficulty focusing,
- pain or discomfort when using your eyes,
- flashes and floaters,
- or double vision.
If any of these symptoms occur in combination with dry, itchy eyes then you should consult with an ophthalmologist without delay.