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Why You Shouldn’t Rub Your Eyes

man rubbing his eyes

Rubbing your itchy eyes may bring momentary relief but can damage your eyes. Here are five reasons you should never rub your eyes and what to do when you feel irritation.

1. You could get an infection

Your hands are full of bacteria from touching different surfaces like door handles, shopping carts and stair railings throughout the day. Even if you wash your hands regularly, rubbing your eyes transfers viruses and bacteria into your eyes. Introducing viruses and staphylococcus and streptococcus (staph and strep) bacteria into your eyes can lead to highly contagious infections like conjunctivitis, or pink eye.

2. You can damage your cornea

The cornea is a transparent tissue covering the iris and pupil, and its main job is to refract light before it enters your eye. Your eye needs to be a smooth, round shape to do its job correctly. Rubbing your eyes can weaken the cornea tissue, causing it to bulge in susceptible individuals. A bulged cornea may lead to keratoconus, which may require a corneal transplant if it becomes severe enough. Rubbing your eyes, especially with your knuckles, is a risk factor for keratoconus.

3. You can make your glaucoma worse

Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve and is caused by increased pressure within the eye. The condition results in permanent vision loss if not detected early with a general eye exam. An eye doctor can treat glaucoma by lowering the pressure within the eye. However, when you rub your eyes, you temporarily increase the pressure within your eyes and potentially make your condition worse.

4. You can damage the skin around your eyes

The skin around your eyes is thin and fragile. When you rub your eyes, you also stretch and potentially damage the skin around your eyes, leading to premature wrinkles and dark circles.

How To Avoid Eye Rubbing

Here are some safer ways to manage or prevent eye itching:

  • Flush your eyes with artificial tears or an eye wash solution

  • Use a cold compress to soothe red, itchy eyes

  • Take an antihistamine to alleviate allergy symptoms

  • Wear eye protection when necessary

  • Talk to your optometrist about prescription eye drops or other remedies that can help alleviate itchy eyes. This type of visit is covered by Alberta Health Care.

Another excellent way to keep your eyes well rested is to get a good night’s sleep.

Book Your Eye Exam in Edmonton

At Optometrists’ Clinic Inc., your vision is our passion. An optometrist can detect conditions such as glaucoma and corneal damage during an eye exam. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at an eye clinic in Edmonton, Leduc or Westlock.


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