If one or both of your eyes are red and itchy, there is a good chance that you are suffering from some form of irritation. However, you will need to discover the source of that irritation if you are to successfully obtain relief from your symptoms.
Common causes of eye irritation
Our eyes are extremely sensitive, and they can be easily irritated by a variety of different things. Some of the most common causes of eye irritation include the following:
Allergies occur when your body has a hypersensitive response to something it comes into contact with. This causes your immune system to go into overdrive, and it attacks its own cells. It is thought around 1 in 4 people will experience an allergic reaction at some point during their lifetime. Symptoms include red, swollen, itchy eyes, excess tear production and a gritty feeling.
Allergies affect people in many ways. Some types of allergies cause issues with our eyes, particularly those that are environmental and seasonal. For example, pollen is a seasonal allergy and triggers a condition that is known as allergic conjunctivitis which is most common in the spring and summer when pollen counts are at their highest. Meanwhile, substances such as mold, dust and even tobacco smoke can cause allergies too and these can be found all year round.
If allergies are causing your eyes to become red and irritated, removing yourself from the allergen as much as possible, and/or taking antihistamines, can keep your symptoms under control.
This very contagious eye condition occurs when the conjunctiva, which is the thin, transparent layer of tissue that covers the inner surface of the eyelid and white part of the eye, becomes inflamed. It can be caused by infection or allergies and can make the eyes appear red, bloodshot, swollen, itchy, gritty and watery. They can also produce pus that sticks to your eyelashes and can make opening your eyes difficult.
Treatment for conjunctivitis will depend on the variety that you have. We use clinical and lab tests in the office to detect the type of conjunctivitis so you can get the proper treatment. So there isn’t a need to go to urgent care or the emergency room. If it’s bacterial, you may be prescribed antibiotics to clear the infection. However, if it is viral conjunctivitis or caused by an allergy, antibiotics will not work, and you will need to start a vigorous cleaning routine to clear it.
Blepharitis is a common condition that is caused by bacteria and in some cases, microscopic mites that live on the eyelids. Blepharitis isn’t serious or contagious, but it can lead to more complex issues affecting the eyes such as cysts and conjunctivitis. Some of the symptoms of blepharitis include red, itchy eyes, soreness, flakes or crusts around the roots of the eyelashes, and your eyelids sticking together in the morning when you first wake up.
In most instances, blepharitis can be treated by cleaning your eyelids at least once a day, even after your symptoms have cleared. However, in some instances, you may need antibiotic drops or creams to deal with the problem.
Foreign object in the eye
Even just the smallest sliver of a foreign object can irritate our eyes. Sand particles and dust particles are particularly common irritants and once they enter our eyes, often they can only be removed by thoroughly rinsing them with clean, cool water or saline solution. If you feel like there is something lodged in your eye, your first inclination will probably be to rub your eye to try and clear it. However, this can lead to the object scratching the corneal surface, causing pain, redness, watering and more.
If you suspect that you have a corneal abrasion, you should arrange to have your eyes checked immediately by your eye doctor to make sure that there isn’t any significant damage.
Our eyes need natural lubrication for us to use them effectively and comfortably. However, if our eyes stop making tear film, if it drains too quickly, or if the combination of substances that go into making tear film isn’t perfectly balanced, we can suffer from a condition called dry eye. Dry eye causes a range of symptoms, including red and itchy eyes. Other problems associated with dry eye include eye fatigue and blurred vision. Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments for dry eye, meaning that you don’t need to suffer unnecessarily. These treatments range from artificial tears and lubricants to non-invasive procedures that stimulate the glands responsible for tear film production.
Contact lens use
Many people rely on contact lenses to help them see clearly, but they require careful handling if you are to keep your eyes healthy. This means washing your hands before placing them in your eyes or taking them out, and if you don’t have daily disposables, being sure to clean them as instructed.
If your eyes are red and itchy, don’t suffer longer than you have to. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to be assessed by our experienced and compassionate team.