Just Say No – Why You Should Never Rub Your Eyes
If your eyes are itchy, dry and tired after staring at a screen all day, or if you suffer from allergies you may be tempted to rub them. After all, it does bring temporary relief. Though itchy, irritated eyes are annoying, rubbing your eyes can cause a whole host of other eye issues. Read on to learn more about why the one cure for itchy eyes you shouldn’t try is rubbing your eyes.
Seeing Stars, And You’re Not in Los Angeles
Seeing stars while walking down Hollywood Boulevard may be a good thing, but seeing them in your line of vision means the vitreous gel inside your eye has been disturbed. If you’ve ever aggressively rubbed your eyes you may have seen floating stars or colour flashes known as phosphenes.
Stay Away From The Light
What does it mean when you see flashes of light?
Putting pressure on your eyes affects the blood flow and signals the retina in the same way that light does. Your brain can’t tell whether you’ve seen actual outside stimuli and activates these colour flashes. Though phosphenes disappear after you stop rubbing your eyes, the pressure can stress the retina and sometimes lead to a tear or a detached retina.
How Rubbing Your Eyes Can Damage Vision
In extreme cases, eye rubbing has been known to damage the cornea even without the presence of a foreign object. This causes a condition known as keratoconus which seriously damages vision. In some cases it requires a corneal transplant. You may think that if you don’t rub your eyes too aggressively or often that you’re in the clear. Though you certainly will have less risk of developing keratoconus or damaging the retina, there are other reasons to just say no, when it comes to rubbing your eyes.
Avoiding rubbing your eyes can also help you to avoid:
With Covid, one of the things the CDC mentioned frequently besides handwashing was to avoid touching the face and eyes to prevent contracting and spreading the virus. Germs from hands can be transferred to the body through mucous membranes and the eyes. This can lead to the spread of diseases such as colds, flu and more serious viruses like Covid, and can also cause bacterial infections like eye styes and pink eye. Stay healthy by avoiding rubbing your eyes and only touching your eyes with clean hands when absolutely necessary (such as changing your contacts).
Worsening of Disease
Remember before how we said that the flashing lights you see after rubbing your eyes is caused by an increase in pressure? That increase in pressure can worsen pre-existing eye conditions such as glaucoma and myopia. If you have glaucoma, a disease which already impacts the pressure in your eyes, every time you rub them you are raising your eye pressure even more. This puts you at an even greater risk of vision loss.
Increased Risk of Damage From Injury
If you have a foreign object in your eye your first instinct may be to rub it, but you can risk permanently damaging and scratching the cornea. It is better to flush out the object if possible and seek medical treatment. Never rub your eye if you have something in it.
Eye rubbing leads to dark circles beneath the eyes and premature wrinkles. The delicate skin around the eyes is thin and easily damaged. Saying no to rubbing your eyes is the easiest and cheapest anti-aging tool.
How To Avoid Eye Rubbing
Often if you have a condition known as dry eye it can feel irritated and gritty as though there is something in your eye. You may get temporary relief from rubbing your eyes since it causes tearing and brings moisture to the surface but eye drops are a much safer way to return moisture to your eyes. If you suffer from dry eye, ask your eye doctor which drops are right for you.
Some other ways to bring relief to irritated eyes include:
- Allergy medication- If your itchy eyes are caused by allergies, taking OTC medication as recommended by your doctor can help.
- Warm compresses- Using a clean warm cloth or a moistened tea bag (boil water, pour over tea bag and allow to cool) can provide relief to irritated eyes, without risking infection.
Now you know why it rubs eye doctors the wrong way when you rub your eyes. If your eyes are irritated due to allergies, winter eyes, dry eye or if you aren’t sure why, book an appointment and ask which treatment options can help you find relief, without the rub.