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Why Rubbing Your Eyes is Dangerous

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It’s a natural instinct to rub itchy eyes. But rubbing offers only a momentary sense of relief. Although rubbing seems a harmless action, it actually leads to a series of harmful effects.

There are several triggers that lead to watery or itchy eyes. In some cases, a foreign particle gets into the eye and causes discomfort. But if you rub your eyes, the particle may also scratch your cornea or cause a permanent injury.

Dust particles or smoke fumes may also trigger an itch. Tears are the human body’s natural defense mechanisms to take care of some of the most common eye problems.

The best thing to do is to ask your doctor to prescribe eye drops to keep your eyes moist. This will keep you from rubbing your eyes.

Rubbing too frequently or too hard might damage your cornea or lens. The resulting effects range from an infection to vision impairment. If you feel you have damaged your eye because of rubbing, seek immediate medical assistance.

Symptoms of eye damage include:

  • Reduced vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye pain
  • Inflammation or redness

Dangers of Rubbing your Eyes

It is not uncommon to observe pesky dark circles under your eyes. These dark circles are caused by lack of sleep, poor nutrition and rigorous rubbing. This happens because rubbing breaks the tiny blood vessels in your eyelids, leading to the formation of fine lines or dark circles. Most people rub their eyes before going to sleep or after waking up.

Rubbing your eyes infrequently has no serious outcomes. But once it becomes a habit, your eyes can suffer a great deal of damage. Most people don’t realize that rubbing their eyes can actually worsen the itching.

There is enough reason to believe that eye rubbing can actually thin the cornea. Naturally, this leads to recurring infections or a condition which is called keratoconus. This eye condition deteriorates vision and the effects are difficult to reverse or correct.


One of the best ways to take care of itchy eyes is to identify the trigger. Professionals who use screens for extended periods frequently complain of itchy and dry eyes. Use protective anti-glare glasses and fix your workplace lighting to relieve your eyes.

  • Use over-the-counter saline eye drops to cleanse your eyes. This lets you flush out any dirt.
  • If you suspect conjunctivitis, get in touch with an eye doctor who will prescribe medication or shots to treat the condition.
  • Never use old or expired contact lenses. Make sure you maintain your lenses to avoid the build-up of debris or allergens on their surface.
  • There are many allergies that cause your eyes to itch. So, it is important that you wash your hands before touching your eyes. Microscopic germs can cause eye irritation which leads to painful and itchy eyes.

Bottom Line

If you are unable to determine what’s triggering the itch or fail to treat severely itchy eyes, get in touch with an eye specialist. Your eye doctor will perform routine eye exams and imaging tests to assess your situation.

Written by Total Focus

At Total Focus Optometry, we’ve spent the last 70 years building meaningful relationships with our patients and their families. From routine eye exams to contact lens fittings we offer our patients a variety of services to meet their eye care needs.

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