What causes itchy eyes?
August 2, 2022
If you’re experiencing itchy eyes, you’re in good company. Many people are experiencing the problem. Knowing the cause can help you pick the right treatment.
The differences between allergy and infection are crucial to understanding. Here are seven causes of itchy eyes and some treatment options:
- Seasonal allergies
If you get itchy eyes around the same time every year, you may suffer from a seasonal allergy to ragweed or something else that blooms and releases pollen during certain times. Pollen counts have been high across the United States this year.One way to tell if you’re dealing with an allergy, as opposed to an eye infection, is that you’ll have other symptoms, such as sneezing and nasal congestion. One way to reduce symptoms is to avoid contact with pollen. You can:
- Pay attention to local weather reports and stay indoors when pollen counts are high.
- Keep home and car windows closed during pollen season.
- Take showers and wash clothes more frequently to help keep pollen away from your airways.
- Wear a mask when you go outside.
Over-the-counter antihistamines can help to control symptoms. You may need a prescription allergy medication if your symptoms are unbearable.
- Perennial allergies
Unlike seasonal allergies, perennial allergies can affect you year-round. Mold, dust, and pet dander are common perennial allergies. You also may be allergic to things like your contact lens solution or the soap or shampoo you use.An allergist can administer a skin test for specific allergens to determine whether you have an allergy by injecting tiny amounts of allergens, such as ragweed or pet dander, under the skin to see if the site reacts.Beyond reducing your exposure to an allergen, you can take antihistamines or corticosteroids to help reduce inflammation.
- Airborne irritants
Some people are sensitive to smoke, diesel exhaust, or even perfumes. The simplest solution is avoiding exposure to these irritants. Soothing eye drops or a cool, damp cloth over your closed eyes may help you feel better fast.
- Pink eye
Viral, bacterial, and fungal infections can all make your eyes itch.One common eye infection is conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, because the white part of the infected eye turns pink. It is very contagious and needs a doctor’s care.
- Dry eye
Several things may prevent your eyes from producing enough tears to keep your eyes from getting dry and itchy. Aging and medical conditions, like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to fewer tears. And medications, including antidepressants, blood pressure medications, birth control pills, and decongestants, can also reduce tear production.Treating dry eyes may be as simple as using over-the-counter artificial tears, which are available as drops. Follow the instructions carefully. If you experience chronic dry eyes, see an eye doctor.
- Eye strain
Staring at a computer screen all day or reading in dim light can strain your eyes, causing them to feel itchy and tired. So can driving for extended periods, especially at night or on bright, sunny days. The solution is to simply rest your eyes periodically.
- Contact lenses
Keeping your contacts in your eyes for too long or not replacing lenses regularly can irritate them, making them itchy and red. If you wear contacts, take them out at night and follow your doctor’s advice about how to care for your lenses and how often you should replace them.
Get the Care You Need
Home remedies can cure many cases of itchy eyes. But if the problem persists, you should see a doctor. If you don’t have a doctor, Grady can help. If you need a primary care physician, call us at (404) 616-1000. We’ll arrange an appointment at a Primary Care Center near you. Doctors there can treat most conditions and provide access to Grady’s unparalleled medical specialty expertise.