Itchy eyes are uncomfortable and irritating. The urge to simply rub and scratch them is irresistible, but that can sometimes aggravate the problem or even cause damage to the eyeball. The best course of action is to understand the cause of the itching and resolve it appropriately.

There are many possible causes for itchy eyes and we will briefly discuss the most common causes here. It is important to always consult an optometrist for the correct diagnosis and treatment in order to minimise the risk of further complications.

Allergies

Allergies are the most common cause of itchy eyes. Various agents like cosmetics, pollen, drugs, dust, or animal fur, may cause allergic reactions. The itchiness is a result of the histamines that your body produces to ward off the allergens. Your doctor may recommend antihistamines to suppress the symptoms of the allergy.

Dry Eye

Dry eye occurs when there is an imbalance in the eye’s tear film. It can feel like there is sand or a foreign object in the eye. Dry eye can also lead to excessive tearing, red eyes or itchy eyes. The causes of the dry eye range from an imbalance in tear production, side effects of medication, to various diseases.

Visit your optometrist to get to the root of the problem and to find a safe solution.

Eyestrain

Sometimes the eyes get itchy due to strain.  If you wear contact lenses for too long or don’t change them often enough the eyes may end up becoming itchy.

Spending prolonged periods focusing computer, tv or mobile screens can also cause strain to your eyes. In fact, there are many activities that can cause eyestrain such as: reading for too long without regular breaks or driving long distances without breaks.

When your routine involves reading or looking at a screen for long periods at a time, make sure that you give your eyes regular breaks.  In your break, shift your focus to objects that are at a slight distance(6m or more).  These breaks don’t have to be long, 20 – 30 seconds is sufficient, however, you should take the breaks frequently (every 30 – 50 minutes).