Sore Eyes: Benign or Something More Concerning?
Eye conditions and diseases can occur in patients both young and old, for an array of reasons. Some are benign, while others manifest in physical discomfort.
Sore eyes are an unpleasant sensation in or around one or both eyes. Your eyes may feel gritty, tender or tired. You may have several other symptoms along with sore eyes, including eye pain, redness, itchiness, swelling, tearing, or discharge from the eyes. Depending on the underlying cause, your healthcare provider may advise the use of different treatment options.
What are the Causes?
Sore eyes can be caused by a variety of reasons. In most cases, they are caused by staring at a computer or book for too long. Other causes may include:
1. Airborne irritants can trigger soreness in sensitive eyes. The air is filled with pollutants, chemical smoke from factories, automobile exhaust, smog, and more. At certain times of the year, notably in the springtime, pollen can be a powerful irritant.
Other airborne eye irritants include dust and other fine particles stirred up by strong winds, dust, and debris. General irritants, airborne or otherwise, may include:
- Contact lens wear
- Excessive rubbing of eyes
- Inflammation caused by allergens or infections
- Too much sun exposure
- Dry eyes or inadequate lubrication of eye surface
- Viral infections such as the common cold
- Pink eye
2. Contact lenses or glasses can easily cause irritation for those unaccustomed to them, especially if they are worn incorrectly or for too long. If you are experiencing sore eyes and wear contacts, check with your eye doctor to see whether the source of your eye pain might be your contact lens. It is possible that you are inserting them incorrectly or the fit is incorrect. You may simply need time to get used to a new prescription or may need to have your existing prescription changed or updated. This applies to glasses, as well.
3. Excessive rubbing of eyes can cause sore eyes in those who have compulsive behavior causing them to rub their eyes constantly.
4. Inflammation caused by allergens such as animal dander, pollen, dust, and other common airborne substances can trigger allergic reactions. In reaction to these triggers, you body releases chemicals called histamines, which cause itching, sneezing, and eye inflammation.
5. Sun exposure can cause your eyes to become sore because your eyes are irritated by the UV rays and the eye muscles become fatigued from constant squinting. To avoid this problem, always be sure to wear a hat and sunglasses when you go out in the sun, and be sure your sunglasses are designed to offer maximum UV protection.
6. Dry eyes syndrome is a medical condition, which can cause painful, sore eyes.
7. Excessive computer use may cause eye fatigue, which can in turn cause sore eyes. If you spend a good portion of your day staring at a computer monitor, electronic display or even a book, sore eyes can irritate and cause discomfort.
Digital displays, in particular, are concerning for patients with sore eyes. The human eye cannot focus on computer pixels for a long duration of time, and it must continually readjust while you are working at your computer. Over time, this causes a repetitive stress and injury to the eye.
8. Viral infections can sometimes cause sore eyes such as pink eye (also known as conjunctivitis) or cellulitis (eyelid infection).
Sore eyes can wreck havoc on everyday activities. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, consult your eye doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
- Redness of the eyes
- Gritty sensation
- Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
- Difficulty opening eyes after sleeping
- Eyelids stuck together after sleeping
- Watery discharge
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
If you have sore eyes, seek medical attention. Treatment for sore eyes can begin once a diagnosis is made, and prevent further damage to your eyes.
Depending on the cause of your condition, your ophthalmologist or optometrist may prescribe you anti-inflammatory or antibiotic eye drops or ointments. To relieve discomfort at home, here are a few tips to implement:
- Warm compression to your eyes for five to ten minutes, three times a day
- Get more sleep at night
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Avoid rubbing your eyes
- Take “eye breaks” from activities that may be causing eye strain, such as prolonged computer use
If your sore eye symptoms are not easing, then be sure to get in touch with Dr. Ghosheh at Advanced Eye Medical.