Alison is a freelance writer on health, nutrition, skincare, and pets, especially cats and dogs.
How to Soothe Your Eyes and Prevent Future Problems
Our eyes are very sensitive and delicate and are prone to various allergies and infections. All of the aforementioned triggers can result in irritation and redness. In this article, we are going to look at some of the most common causes of irritation and show you how to soothe sore, itchy eyes with some simple remedies. We will also show you how you can prevent future episodes if allergies and sore eyes have been an ongoing problem for you.
Eye irritation can be accompanied by dryness, wateriness, and redness. Statistics reveal that millions of people all around the world suffer from various conditions and allergies resulting in itchy eye problems.
Causes of Dry, Itchy Eyes
The dryness and itchiness of the eyes can be caused by various things. The most common causes are allergies, aging, and medication side effects. Before we take a look at the best ways to soothe various types of eye irritation, let’s take a look at these causes in a little more detail:
Age factors: People over the age of 45 often experience a decrease in tear production which results in a decrease in the lipids in tears that naturally lubricate the eyes. This can lead to a feeling of dryness, irritation, and soreness.
Allergies: Itchy eyes are mostly a symptom of allergy or conjunctivitis. There are two kinds of allergic conjunctivitis:
- Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis, which generally prevails during the time when grasses and other plants are producing a lot of pollen. This is perhaps why this condition is often referred to as hay fever as it is due to the presence of allergens like grass, tree and flower pollens in the atmosphere.
- Perennial Allergic Conjunctivitis, a condition that is prevalent all year-round and is mainly caused due to exposure to household allergens like dust, mold and pet hair.
When your eyes are exposed to the allergen, the production of histamines is triggered. These histamines result in inflammation, dry eyes, and itching. Additional causes:
- Medication side effects: Some drugs like antihistamines, antidepressants, sleeping pills, diuretics, and birth control pills cause side effects like reduction in tear production, dryness, itchiness, and redness.
- Immune system problems: Certain disorders related to the human immune system can also lead to red, dry, and itchy eyes. Such a problem occurs when the body's white blood cells mistakenly attack the moisture-producing glands, resulting in inflammation and reduction of tear production.
Home Remedies for Itchy, Red Eyes
There are many home remedies that are effective if you are suffering from itchy, watery eyes. Some of these are not topical applications, but rely on adding some important supplements to your diet.
Supplements That Can Help:
- Omega 3 fatty acids which play a great role in the restoration of moisture. The inclusion of supplements or foods rich in the Omega 3 fatty acids like cod liver oil, tuna, salmon, and sardines, can decrease the symptoms of eye irritation by around 60% where the problem is caused by the decrease of tear production.(1) I take Jarrow Formulas EPA-DHA Balance. These are from a brand I trust and each "soft gel" capsule contains 600 mg of Omega 3. I am also taking them because I read that they help the brain and heart to function. At 60 years young, I feel I need all the help I can get!
- The dryness problem can also occur due to lack of Vitamin A in the body. This vitamin is highly essential to maintain the health of the eye cells as well as the production of mucus to protect them. A diet with the inclusion of adequate Vitamin-A not helps to improve the condition of dry eyes, but also your vision. Foods that contain the vitamin are carrots, spinach, yam, and fish oil.(2)
Try Using a Humidifier
If the problem occurs in the dry seasonal allergy months, you can use a humidifier to add moisture to the air. This can drastically reduce the dryness as well as the dust or pollen floating in the atmosphere. Humidifiers are not expensive and portable units can bring huge benefits, especially if you use one in your bedroom at night whilst you sleep.
Soothing Remedies for Itchy, Burning Eyes
- You can place a piece of cool cucumber on the eyes for 10 minutes to soothe them and reduce the inflammation.
- Use a gel eye mask, cooled in the refrigerator and then applied over closed eyelids for twenty minutes or so.
- Try chilled teaspoons. These make a good "cold compress" if you place the backs of the spoon bowls directly onto your closed eyelids.
- Use a warm, moist cloth, or cotton wool pad to remove any discharge, by gently wiping the eye gently, always moving towards the outer corner of the eye and using a clean cloth or pad for each eye.
- Use artificial tear refreshers or eye drops. These can aid in providing relief from dryness and itchiness. Lubricating drops are the best available option for prevention of further irritation and inflammation.
- Avoid touching your eyes or scratching them. Wash your hands frequently to avoid the spread of infection.
- Wash the areas around your eyes with warm water and baby shampoo. This will aid in removing the debris and irritants easily.
Visit your doctor who may refer you to an eye specialist if the above procedures do not provide any relief. There may be an underlying condition which requires treatment but in most cases, prescription ointments or drops will soothe your eyes and relieve the symptoms.
Dr. Daisy Sutherland talks about relief for swollen, irritated, painful eyes.
Tips to Prevent Sore and Itchy Eyes
Once you have relief from the irritation and sooth the redness, here are some tips which can help in the prevention of all kinds of allergies and especially those causing watering eyes or the dryness or itchiness which can also result.
- Vacuum your home or office space regularly to reduce dust and pet hair. The seasonal outdoor allergens can be avoided by shutting the windows and outlets of a room.
- If you live in an old building or in a building with damp problems, then mold and mildew can cause redness of the eyes. You can use a dehumidifier, but mold spores can cause serious health issues so you may need to call for professional assistance, to get rid of the problem.
- Exposure to chemicals, even those found in regular household cleaners, can cause long-term or short-term eye problems. Use environmentally friendly, natural products to clean your home.
- Take frequent breaks from the computer or television. Continuous viewing can cause soreness of the eyes.
- Avoid using cosmetics which have passed their expiration date. If you have been using any eye makeup products prior to an eye infection, then discard them and use fresh ones after the treatment. This can prevent future recurrence of infections.
- Try to avoid the habit of touching your face and eyes with your fingers as you will inadvertently transfer allergens to your eyes in the process.
- Sleep can work miracles on your eye health. Adequate sleep helps restore their thin, moisturizing film coat and rests the surrounding muscles so that you wake with your eyes feeling refreshed.(3)
Protect Your Eyes When You Are Outside
- Protect your eyes with sunglasses, particularly during the hayfever season. Choose a large pair that is close fitting for greatest benefit. Sunglasses or even normal prescription glasses can help to prevent pollens, wind, and dust from irritating and drying the eyes.
- Wear swimming goggles while swimming as both saltwater and chemically treated swimming pool water can irritate, causing redness.
- Protect your eyes with ski goggles when skiing as these not only provide protection from the glare of sun and snow, but also prevent problems caused by cold winds.
How to Soothe Sore, Red, Watering, or Itchy Eyes
We have talked about the various causes of eye irritation. If you are affected, there are various soothing techniques like the application of cool compresses or using medications that can help. A healthy diet, sound sleep, and clean atmosphere can prevent sore, itchy, and red eyes.
There are also many effective home remedies and simple preventative measures you can use to bring relief. However, sometimes, sore eyes can also be associated with other infections like Blepharitis and Conjunctivitis. For this reason, it is essential to contact an eye care professional at the earliest opportunity if attempts to soothe sore itchy eyes using the simple methods outlined in this article are not effective for you.
1. Gary Heiting, O. (2017). Eye Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. [online] All About Vision. Available at: http://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/fatty_acid_1.htm [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].
2. CooperVision UK. (2017). Eye Vitamins for Vision. [online] Available at: https://coopervision.co.uk/eye-health-and-vision/eye-vitamins-vision [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].
3. Optrex.co.uk. (2017). Optrex - Experts in eye care. [online] Available at: http://www.optrex.co.uk/tips-advice/every-day-care/how-sleeping-helps-your-eyes/ [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.