Should itching in the eyes persist however, then it’s time to visit your therapeutic optometrist, who will check out if it’s a sign of something that needs prescription treatment.
The first thing to remember is that the majority of eye problems are easily controlled with eye drops, antibiotics and in a lot of cases just by a change of living habits and monitoring of environment – so relax if you’ve got itchy eyes!
What causes itchy eyes?
A variety of things from environment to mild infections to dry eyes can cause significant itching. Rubbing to alleviate the itching invariably worsens the situation possibly leading to watery eyes, red eye, swelling or puffiness.
Environment is undoubtedly a main contributing factor. A night out in a stuffy atmosphere, especially with friends who smoke, is likely to leave you with itchy eyes at both the venue and the next morning.
On a hot and windy day with dust being blown everywhere, sand or grit will get into the eyes and that feeling of itching will start. A few blinks of the eyelids or a gentle rub will alleviate the mild itching symptoms, but of course too much rubbing will just make things worse and watery eyes will start, which can then be a problem in itself.
A foreign body such as an eyelash (presumably your own – but you never know) or a fine piece of fibreglass from say some insulating material can produce really severe itching, and that’s good since it’s your body’s way of ensuring the foreign body is removed.
Itchy eyes could be an indicator of the start of a conjunctivitis, which could be either allergy,bacterial, viral and even dry eye related.
Allergic conjunctivitis is the first thing that needs to come to mind though with itchy eyes, as it is the primary symptom for this condition.
Treating Itchy Eyes
A mild case of itchy eyes will probably go away in a few days, but if not then some over the counter (OTC) “artificial tear” eye drops from your local pharmacy might do the trick. Don’t take the drops more than four times a day however, and if the itchy eyes persist, then make an appointment with your optometrist as soon as practical.
Before you make your appointment you might like to get a friend to have a bit of a look into your eyes to see if there is any foreign matter there, pulling the lower lid down while you look up and vice versa to give your friend an open view. If there is something there then a quick splash of sterile saline might get it out.
Usually it’s better to leave the whole thing to a professional, especially if you have contact lenses, and absolutely especially so if you’ve ever had laser eye surgery – just don’t take any chances, remembering your eyes are the only ones you’ve got.
Your optometrist will be able to provide a programme to treat the itchy eyes, but more importantly will be able to check out for other things such as foreign bodies, beginnings of conjunctivitis or signs of eye deterioration.
Be warned however, your optometrist may recommend that you curb your nights out clubbing with your friends!