Can Rubbing Your Eyes Harm Your Vision?

Rubbing your eyes are a natural reaction that just about everyone does.  Whether it’s because you feel like you have something in your eye, you just woke up, you are sleepy, or you feel like your eye is itchy, rubbing the eyes seems to be one of the only things that feels like an immediate source of relief.  Some people even rub their eyes when they are stressed out or anxious.  Rubbing of the eyes can also come in many different forms—from one to multiple fingers, knuckles, to the palms of the hand. For more information about eye treatment in Orange County, utilize the services of Advanced Eye Medical.

All that being said, one question you may (or may not) have considered is whether rubbing your eyes can actually do any damage to your eyes and vision.

The answer to this, like many things in life, is…it depends.

The sporadic, momentary rub of the eye is not usually too much reason for concern.  In fact, this occasional rubbing of the eye is known to have some benefits.  One of the reason why rubbing the eyes when they feel dry or itchy is such a natural reaction is because it results in the production of tears to help lubricate the eye and provide some relief to the eye.  This can help to remove dust or other particles that may be irritating the eye.  Pressing down on the eyeball stimulates nerves which can slow down the heart rate, which can provide some form of stress and anxiety relief. For a list of remedies to common eye problems, seek eye treatment in Orange County.

This all sounds like great reasons to rub your eyes, but here’s when rubbing your eyes can be harmful.

Too Much Pressure

One of the ways that rubbing the eyes can be harmful is when you put too much pressure on the eyeball.  By rubbing your eyeball too hard and for too long, you increase eye pressure.  This increase in pressure to the eye can be troublesome for those with short-sightedness.  In some cases, patients have actually experienced the detachment of the retina which can be extremely dangerous and cause for concern.  Additionally, patients with glaucoma can experience a disruption in blood flow due to an increase in eye pressure.  This can then lead to nerve damage, which can then ultimately affect your ability to see properly (or at all).

Infecting the Eye

Another more common harmful side effect of eye-rubbing is the potential risks of infecting the eye.  People carry numerous germs on their fingers, underneath their nails and cuticles, and on their hands.  Every time you rub your eye, you put your eyes at risk of getting these germs in the eyes and infecting the eye.  Then, once the eye is infected, if not properly treated, you potentially risk damage to your eyes and vision.

Additionally, if you continually rub your eyes, you can also risk scratching the surface of the eyeball with your nails if you are not careful or gentle in the way that you rub.

In conclusion, while eye-rubbing is a natural reaction, there really is no reason to ever have to rub your eyes and being more mindful and aware of when you do rub your eyes is a great way to eliminate this behavior.  Here are some common substitutions for rubbing your eyes in various situations.

  • Something in Your Eye. If you feel like you have something in your eye, the best way to get it out is by washing your eyes out with cool water.  This will help to naturally flush out anything that may have gotten into them.  Additionally, if you work around a lot of dust, chemical, or particles, it would be good to consider wearing safety goggles to protect your eyes before you get something into them.
  • Dry, Itchy Eyes. If your eyes are dry and itchy, the best way to treat them is through the use of eye drops to help lubricate and rehydrate your eyes. If you notice that your eyes are dry and itchy often, you may also want to seek the help of an eye doctor to check and make sure that there’s nothing else wrong with your eyes that may be causing the dry eyes.
  • Stressed or Anxious. Stress and anxiety are bound to happen, so figuring out a way to find a healthy outlet to manage your stress and anxiety is key to avoiding adding any additional concerns to your life by potentially causing any harm to your eyes or vision. From breathing techniques, meditation, and physical activity, there are a number of ways to better manage your stress than to take them out on your eyes!

Eye Treatment in Orange County

If you are located in the Orange County area of Southern California and suffer from constant eye irritation and eye-rubbing, contact the medical professionals at Advanced Eye Medical today at 1-866-997-2020 or by e-mail at  We can take a look at your overall eye health and make recommendations for treatment.