What causes itchy eyes?
There are many possible reasons for itchy eyes, including things like:
Most cases of itchy eyes are allergy-related. This happens when the eyes become irritated by allergens like dust, pet hair or dander, pollen (hay fever) and certain products like make-up or face creams.
Itchy eyes can be a symptom of this common eye condition. Itchy eyes are acommpanied by a red or pink-coloured eye, a sore or burning feeling, and sometimes a discharge from the eye. You should see your optician if you think you have conjunctivitis. They may recommend antibiotic eye drops if it caused by an infection.
Dry eyes happen when there is a disruption in the production of tears that help to keep the eye healthy and nourished. When there aren’t enough tears, or they drain or evaporate too quickly it can cause itchy and irritated eyes.
This condition affects the eyelids, caused by an infection or skin condition. As well as red and swollen eyelids, blepharitis can cause your eyes to feel itchy, dry, and swollen. Find out more about blepharitis.
Computer eye strain
Spending a lot of time in front of computer screens can cause itchy eyes as well as blurred vision, headaches, and eye discomfort. Find out more about computer eye strain.
Wearing contact lenses
Regular contact lens wearers are likely to experience dry eyes, articularly if worn for too long each day, which can lead to itchy eyes.
If eczema affects your eyelids, it can lead to itchy and irritated eyes.
Treatment for itchy eyes
Treating your itchy eyes will ultimately depend on the underlying cause.
Generally, eye drops will help to calm down any itchiness and get some moisture back on your eyes. You might also benefit from using a cold compress on the eyes to soothe the itchy feeling.
If your itchy eyes are caused by an allergy, you should see your GP or pharmacist who might recommend taking antihistamines or using certain eye drops to prevent and relieve your symptoms.
It’s important that you don’t rub your itchy eyes, as although it may provide temporary relief, it can make your eyes feel worse or lead to other problems.
When to see an eye health specialist
For most people, itchy eyes don’t tend to last long and can go away on their own.
If you experience itchy eyes frequently, you notice your vision is being affected, or you feel any eye pain, you should see your optician. They might be able to identify any possible causes and recommend the right treatment option for you.
Itchy eye prevention
Although it can’t always be prevented, there are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of getting itchy eyes:
- Take regular breaks from your computer screen to avoid computer eye strain
- Take your make-up off at night and wash your face
- Keep pets out of your bedroom to reduce the amount of hair and dander around you at night
- Shut your windows when you’re sleeping to keep any bothersome outdoor allergens that could affect your eyes
Treatment for itchy eyes will depend on the underlying cause. Often eye drops or a cold compress can help with the itchiness, but if it’s allergy-related, you should ask your GP or pharmacist about antihistamines or eye drops that can help to prevent them.
Itchy eyes can be a symptom of certain allergies, dry eye syndrome, conjunctivitis, blepharitis, and computer eye strain.
Rubbing your eyes, especially if they’re itchy, can often just make the itchiness worse and can lead to infections or can scratch your cornea. If you have itchy eyes, it’s better to relieve your symptoms with eye drops or a cold compress.