Are your eyes dry, itchy, and irritated?
Does the condition come and go, or does it seem to linger year-round?
There are a number of reasons why your eyes may be itchy and red, ranging from the more serious (such as infection, eye disease, broken blood vessels, and trauma) to the less serious but still problematic (such as allergies and eye strain). While most reasons for itchy, irritated eyes are not emergencies, you should see your eye doctor if conditions persist or get worse.
In the meantime, let’s take a quick look at two of the more common reasons for dry or itchy eyes.
Most people who experience some form of eye discomfort suffer from seasonal allergies. Just as many of us experience sneezing, sniffling, and nasal congestion in the spring and fall each year, our eyes can be affected by allergies too.
Luckily, allergies are typically more irritating and annoying than they are dangerous—unless prolonged rubbing of your eyes leads to infections, which can become serious and require a doctor’s care.
If your allergies persist throughout the year, most likely you don’t suffer from seasonal allergies, but are sensitive to things such as pet dander, molds, dust mites, or even environmental toxins.
The best treatment for eye discomfort due to allergies is to treat the allergy or avoid whatever triggers your allergic reaction (such as pets or high pollen conditions).
- Wearing oversized eyeglasses or sunglasses can also help block pollen or other irritants from reaching your eyes.
- Washing bedding frequently in hot water helps lower dust mite populations in the bedroom, and cleaning floors with a damp mop can keep rooms clean and the dust down.
- Over-the-counter medications, especially oral antihistamines such as Cetirizine and Loratadine, can provide short-term relief of some eye allergy symptoms, while prescription treatments can provide longer-term relief.
- Saline rinses and eye lubricants can both soothe irritated eyes and help flush away allergens.
- For contact lens wearers, allergies can be particularly miserable. Single use contact lenses (where you start out each day with clean, fresh lenses) can be a very effective way to overcome allergy discomfort.
If you spend more than just a few hours a day in front of a computer, smartphone, tablet, or even a television screen, you mayexperience some form of eye strain, which can lead to dry, itchy eyes (similar to eye allergy sufferers), blurred vision, headaches, and even neck and shoulder pain. And it’s not only screen time that can cause eyestrain. Any other activity that requires the intense use of your eyes for prolonged periods, such as reading, writing, driving, bright lights, or straining to see in low light conditions, can cause eye strain.
Talk to your eyecare provider about special eyewear/lenses designed to reduce eye strain. You may also want to discuss any habits that may be contributing to your eyestrain to come up with a workable solution.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology also recommends keeping digital displays and monitors about an arm’s length away when viewing, and following the 20-20-20 rule: give your eyes a break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Give Your Eyes Some TLC
It’s not fun to always be rubbing your eyes due to allergies and eye strain, and it can lead to more serious problems. For more than 30 years, the skilled team of optometrists, opticians, and other eye care professionals at Sunglass & Optical Warehouse have been meeting the eye care needs of Greater San Diego.
Contact us today to discuss how we might be able to help you address chronically dry, irritated eyes due to strain or seasonal or perennial allergies.