Itching, burning eyes can interfere with everyday activities — like driving to work or watching your child’s soccer game. Symptoms such as excessive blinking and tear production may prevent you from concentrating on important tasks. If you are suffering from eye irritation, try these tips to calm the itch and reduce pain.
Over-the-counter or prescription eyedrops cleanse eyes and provide lubrication. Medicated drops also treat bacterial infections or other conditions. However, these should only be used after consulting a physician. If your eyes are dry, red or inflamed, drops can soothe the irritation and provide temporary relief.
Some experts warn against flushing out your eyes in the sink or shower, because they claim the contaminants in tap water could cause further damage. Similarly, wait at least two hours between eyedrop applications. This gives you time to determine whether your eyes are able to tolerate the solution with no adverse effects.
Improve Your Diet
Certain vitamins and minerals contribute to ocular health. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial when it comes to caring for your eyes, so try adding fish or flax oil to your diet. If you aren’t getting enough omega-3 fatty acids through food, supplements are available to help make up the balance.
Dehydration can prevent you from producing tears and cause dry, irritated eyes. Eyedrops temporarily relieve symptoms, but adequate water intake is essential for overall eye health and comfort. Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day, especially after intense physical activity.
Give Your Eyes a Rest
Eyestrain can also cause irritation. If you stare at the computer for long periods of time, or if you do not get sufficient sleep, your eyes will become dry and inflamed. To ease the discomfort, give your eyes periodic rests throughout the day. After staring at the computer screen for half an hour, for example, look away or close your eyes for three or four minutes. Of course, getting enough sleep is important to your general physical and mental well-being.
Remove Foreign Objects
In rare cases, a foreign object lodged underneath the eyelid causes irritation. It could be a speck of dust, an errant eyelash or even a contact lens. For small foreign objects, such as dirt or dust, flush the eye with a generous amount of cleaning solution. If no solution is available, use water.
Larger foreign objects, on the other hand, require professional assistance. If you are unable to flush out the object, or if it is too large to handle on your own, visit the nearest emergency room immediately. Foreign objects can cause permanent damage to the eye if not treated.
Certain products might irritate your eyes. Makeup, soap, fragrances and insecticides are common irritants, so pay attention to the things you use most often, especially if they come into contact with your face. Discontinue use if you discover that a particular product or brand causes you discomfort, as your eyes will probably not “adjust” and stop becoming irritated.
Treat the Underlying Cause
If you spent an afternoon in the park, especially during springtime, and come home with irritated eyes, the problem could be allergies. If you experience redness, discharge and blurred vision, you might have conjunctivitis, commonly known as pinkeye.
Even if a prescription or over-the-counter medication relieves your symptoms, it is important to treat the source of the problem. Visit your general practitioner or eye doctor if you suspect your irritated eyes might indicate a more serious health issue.