Most everyone experiences some form of eye irritation from time to time. Whether your eyes burn or sting, become red and bloodshot, or won't stop itching, the symptoms usually come from an underlying reason that can be easily treated. If your eye issues don't clear up within a short time, you should see your optometrist. In the meantime, here are possible causes for your eye irritation.
1. Environmental Factors and Household Products
If you are exposed to smog, cigarette smoke, or fumes from chemicals, you may experience a degree of eye irritation. Most notably, your symptoms may include burning and stinging. In more severe reactions, your eyes may also become red and watery.
Obviously, the best way to prevent this reaction is by avoiding the triggers, such as not allowing anyone to smoke around you. When you must be outdoors where you will be exposed to smog or smoke, wearing sunglasses may help filter out the irritants to some degree.
Also, be aware of chemical cleaners and household products that emit fumes. When using such a product, always do so in a well ventilated area. Keep your windows open and never aim the spray nozzle toward your face.
Also, if you have sensitive eyes, you might want to avoid using air fresheners as well. The aerosol kind or plug-in varieties may be irritating to you when the particles are dispersed into the air.
2. Cosmetics With Harsh Ingredients
Be mindful about certain cosmetics and soaps you are using. If your eyes are especially sensitive, read all labels on products. You should use only the hypoallergenic cosmetics and facial products.
Also, you might want to avoid using mascara altogether, or watch out for dyes and additives that may burn or sting your eyes if you react badly to cosmetic products. Waterproof mascara might be especially difficult to remove, forcing you to rub your eyes and cause further irritation, so stay clear of this product. If you must use mascara and makeup, be sure to remove all traces before going to bed.
3. Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergies, such as hay fever and reaction to pollen, are a major cause of dry, itchy, red, and irritated eyes. You can avoid allergy eyes by staying indoors when the pollen count is especially high. Also, keep your windows closed and use air conditioning during allergy season.
You might try medicated eye drops as well. Typically, drops for eye allergies will contain an antihistamine, which relieves itching by blocking histamine. Always remove contact lenses before applying the drops. If over-the-counter eye drops don't work for you, see your optometrist who may prescribe something stronger.
Placing a cool compress over your eyes may also provide some relief from dry, red, itchy eyes due to allergies. As a last resort, your doctor may suggest allergy shots.
4. Pink Eye
Pink eye (conjunctivitis) refers to inflammation which leaves the white of the eye and inside of the eyelid red, itchy, and watery. Red and bloodshot eyes are also a tell-tale sign. Pink eye may be caused by a virus or bacteria, in which case the condition is highly contagious. Pink eye may also be caused by allergies or injury to the eye, and this form is not contagious or spread through contact.
If you believe you have conjunctivitis, play it safe and consult your optometrist. When there is a discharge of pus and bacterial pink eye is suspected, you may need antibiotic eye drops to treat the infection. Cool compresses may provide relief from the irritation.
To avoid the spread of viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, do not share towels or washcloths. Wash your hands frequently, and don't rub your eyes.
As a final word of caution, see your eye doctor at Hummel Eye Associates if your symptoms do not approve or if your vision is affected.