6 main causes of itchy eyes and what to do

Itchy eyes are, in most cases, a sign of allergy to dust, smoke, pollen or animal hair, which come into contact with the eyes and cause the body to produce histamine, a substance that causes inflammation at the site, resulting in symptoms such as itching, redness and swelling.

However, itching can also indicate the development of an infection in the eye or even problems with the functioning of the glands that keep the eye moist. Thus, whenever itching appears that takes more than 3 days to relieve, it is important to consult an ophthalmologist to identify the correct cause and start treatment with the most appropriate eye drops.

1. Eye allergy

The appearance of itchy eyes is almost always a symptom of allergy, whether caused by food or environmental factors such as dust, hair or smoke, and in these cases, it is known as allergic conjunctivitis. Typically, the allergy is easily recognized, because itching often arises after contact with a specific substance, so the best way to prevent itching is to stay away from the allergen that is causing it.

This type of change in the eyes is more frequent in spring and summer, as they are times of the year when there is a higher concentration of allergens in the air, and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as excessive tear production, redness and a feeling of sand in the eye, for example.

What to do : avoid being in contact with substances known to be allergic and apply moisturizing eye drops to reduce discomfort and relieve irritation. See more ways to treat allergic conjunctivitis .

2. Dry eye syndrome

Another of the most common causes of itchy eyes is dry eye syndrome, in which there is a decrease in the production of tears, making the eye more irritated and resulting in symptoms such as redness and severe itching.

Dry eye is more frequent in elderly people, due to the natural aging of the body, but it can also happen in people who work in very dry environments, with air conditioning or in front of the computer. In addition, it can also appear in those who use contact lenses incorrectly or make use of some medicines such as antiallergic or birth control pill.

What to do : The best way to combat dry eye symptoms is to use artificial tears during the day to keep the eye hydrated. However, you can also put warm water compresses over your eyes, as well as try to avoid using air conditioning and take breaks when working in front of the computer. See more tips to get rid of dry eye .

3. Eye stress

Eye stress is increasingly one of the main causes of eye problems, especially itching. This happens due to the excessive effort caused by the computer screen and the cell phone, which are increasingly present in everyday life, causing eye strain. This type of tiredness can also lead to the development of frequent headache, difficulty concentrating and generalized tiredness.

What to do : It is important to take regular breaks from using your computer or cell phone, taking the opportunity to walk and rest your eyes. A good tip is to look at an object that is more than 6 meters away, for 40 seconds every 40 minutes. 

4. Inflammation of the eyelid

When you have an eye problem that causes inflammation of the eyelid, such as a stye or blepharitis, it is common for the eye to be unable to maintain proper hydration, allowing its surface to be dry and irritated, resulting in itching, as well as redness, swelling of the eye and burning.

What to do : One way to relieve inflammation of the eyelid and decrease symptoms is to place a compress of warm water over the eye for 2 to 3 minutes and keep the eye clean and without pushes. However, if the symptoms do not improve, you should go to the ophthalmologist to assess the need to start using antibiotic eye drops, for example. Find out more about what can cause and how to treat inflammation of the eyelid .

5. Use of contact lenses

Wearing contact lenses for more than 8 hours a day can contribute to the appearance of dry eye and, consequently, to the development of itchy eyes. In addition, an inadequate hygiene of the lenses, especially in the case of monthly, can also facilitate the accumulation of bacteria, which end up infecting the eye and causing signs such as redness, itching and the formation of skin, for example.

What to do : avoid using contact lenses for longer than indicated by the manufacturer, as well as using lubricating eye drops. Proper hygiene of contact lenses must also be maintained, including when placing them on the eye. See how to properly care for contact lenses .

6. Conjunctivitis

In addition to causing intense redness of the eye, puffing and burning, conjunctivitis can also cause itching. Conjunctivitis usually needs to be treated with the use of antibiotics (when of bacterial origin) in the form of eye drops and, therefore, an ophthalmologist should be consulted. 

What to do : if there is a suspicion of conjunctivitis, you should immediately go to the ophthalmologist to start the appropriate treatment, as well as avoid the contagion of conjunctivitis, it is therefore important to avoid scratching your eyes with your hands, washing your hands frequently and avoiding share personal objects like glasses or makeup, for example. See 7 other things you can or cannot do in case of conjunctivitis .

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