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Itchy Eyes: Causes, symptoms & treatments

by Eric Gathoni

Itchy Eyes: Causes, symptoms & treatments

Eyes are our window to the world, and when irritated, this can significantly impact our daily lives. But what causes this discomfort? How can you tell if it's a simple annoyance or a symptom of something more serious? And most importantly, what can you do about it? Let us delve in.

Causes of Itchy Eyes

Allergies: These allergens, pollen, dust, pet dander, and certain cosmetics can trigger allergic reactions that cause inflammation of the membrane lining the eye, known as allergic conjunctivitis, leading to itchy eyes.

Dry Eyes: Insufficient tear production or poor quality tears can cause the eyes to become dry and irritated, resulting in itchiness.

Blepharitis: This is an inflammation of the eyelids, typically caused by bacterial infections, skin conditions such as dandruff, or eyelash mites.

Contact Lens Wear: Contacts can sometimes collect pollen or dust, which irritates. Also, wearing them for extended periods or not properly cleaning them can lead to itchy eyes.

Environmental Factors: Smoke, wind, chlorinated pool water, and extended screen time can lead to eye irritation and itchiness.

Symptoms Accompanying Itchy Eyes

Apart from the sensation of itching, you may also experience:

  • Redness in the eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Mucus discharge

Treatments for Itchy Eyes

Over-the-Counter Eye Drops: Lubricating eye drops, often referred to as artificial tears, provide relief from dry or irritated eyes for many people. Antihistamine eye drops can be beneficial for those with allergies.

Prescription Medications: Your optician might prescribe strong antihistamines or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation for severe allergic reactions.

Warm Compress: Applying a warm cloth to your closed eyelids can alleviate symptoms of blepharitis, providing relief from itchiness.

Good Hygiene: Regularly cleaning your eyelids with baby shampoo can prevent blepharitis. Also, thoroughly clean your contact lenses and follow the recommended wear time.

Limit Allergen Exposure: If you know you're allergic to something, like pollen, it's wise to limit your exposure. Wearing sunglasses outside can also prevent allergens from entering the eyes.

Breaks from Screens: If extended screen time is causing your itchiness, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.

When to See an Optician

While many cases of itchy eyes are treatable at home, it's essential to consult with an optician if:

  • The itching is persistent and doesn't improve with over-the-counter treatments.
  • You experience pain in the eyes.
  • Your vision changes.
  • You suspect an infection (e.g. if there's a yellow or green discharge).

In conclusion, itchy eyes are a common issue with various potential causes. By understanding the root of the problem and seeking appropriate treatments, you can keep your eyes comfortable and healthy.

Always prioritize your eye health and seek professional advice when in doubt. After all, clear, comfortable vision is integral to enjoying the beauty of the world around us.