You are tired. Your eyes are itchy. It’s only natural: instant relief, rub your eyes. But when something is in your eyes, you may want to think twice. That’s because while rubbing your eyes may give you temporary relief, in the long term it can also have dangerous and harmful side effects.
Debris and germs can penetrate the eye, which could lead to eye infections. If you have progressive myopia, rubbing your eyes can worsen the condition. If you suffer from glaucoma, rubbing your eyes can lead to increased eye pressure and disturbed blood flow, which leads to nerve damage and permanent harm to your eyesight.
If you have a condition called Keratoconus, rubbing your eyes can be especially dangerous. Keratoconus is a thinning of the central part of the cornea. Although it doesn’t result in complete loss of sight, Keratoconus leads to a progressive loss of vision and can be severe enough for patients to be diagnosed as legally blind.
The negative effects go on… Instead of rubbing your eyes, let us help you with our short guide to the dangers of eye rubbing.
4 Reasons Not to Rub Your Eyes
1. Risk of Infection
Rubbing your eyes with dirty hands can lead to infections, including pink eye or worse. You use your hands for pretty much everything, so it’s no surprise that they pick up all sorts of bacteria throughout the day. While some of the risk can be mitigated by good hygiene, rubbing your eyes puts you at risk of eye infection no matter how thoroughly you wash your hands.
For those with allergies, rubbing your eyes to relieve allergy-induced itching will release more histamines into the sensitive tissues of your eyes, which only cause more severe reactions. Therefore, scratching your eyes is not only dangerous, but ineffective, as well.
2. Potential for Injury
There are many reasons your eyes might be itchy, but if something is in your eye, rubbing is the least effective and most dangerous way to get it out. In most cases, your body’s natural defense mechanisms will take care of the problem. If not, try using eye drops or closing your eyes for rest. If you do rub your eyes, foreign particles could end up scratching your cornea.
3. Long-Term Side Effects
Consistently rubbing your eyes over a long period of time can lead to thinning of the cornea. That in turn can lead to recurring infections, or worse, a condition called keratoconus, which causes a deterioration of vision that cannot be reversed or corrected.
4. Dark Circles
Lack of quality sleep is not the only reason dark circles appear. Habitually rubbing your eyes can promote the development of periorbital circles, which may appear as dark rings around or under your eyes. The dark discoloration is a result of small amounts of blood leaking out of the periorbital vessels. If you’re waking up with dark circles, try wearing a cool compress.
How to Prevent Itchy Eyes
Foreign particles or allergy-induced debris commonly cause itchy, burning eyes. If avoiding the allergen is impossible, it is best to talk with your healthcare provider about preventative options such as eye drops, oral antihistamines and decongestants. If you think you may be allergic to your contact lenses or lens solution, talk with your eye doctor about the problem.
To mitigate itchy eyes, especially allergy-induced itching, here are a few indoor and outdoor tips to keep in mind:
- Vacuum regularly to reduce dust and pet dander.
- Keep your windows shut to reduce outdoor allergens.
- Keep your pets out of bedrooms or areas you spend a lot of time in.
- Run your air conditioner to reduce indoor allergens and keep your air filters and air ducts clean.
- Avoid smoking in rooms with little or no ventilation.
- Watch the news to check pollen counts. Pollen counts are the highest between 5AM-10AM.
- Dry your clothes in a dryer, not outside. Outdoor allergens stick to the fabric of your clothes.
- Take precautions before doing yard work. Wear face masks and gloves.
- Take a shower after being outside to wash away allergens that have clung to your hair and skin.
Schedule a Consultation
There are numerous reasons to avoid rubbing your eyes. Itchy eyes can worsen, eye infections can develop, and long-term effects can linger with chronic itching. If you or someone you know is suffering allergy-induced itching or chronic itching of the eye, it may be time to discuss the cause and treatment plan with your doctor. Join our many satisfied patients, and schedule an appointment at Advanced Eye Medical today for treatment options.