5 Reasons Not to Rub Your Eyes

There are many reasons why you may rub your eyes. Maybe they’re itchy due to an allergen, like pollen or dust. Or perhaps you’re overtired and rub them to keep them open. No matter what prompts you to rub your eyes, it’s time to break the habit for good. And here’s why. 

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1. It can create dark circles.

The area around your eyes is extremely delicate. As a result of rubbing your eyes, the tiny blood vessels in that area can break. When that happens, the blood is allowed to flow into the surrounding tissue. In turn, you’ll notice dark or darker circles under your eyes. While some eye circles can be caused by certain medications, age, fatigue, and allergies, others can be caused by constant rubbing. Keep your eye area flawless by resisting the urge to rub your eyes.

2. It increases the risk of infection.

Your hands carry a large amount of germs. In fact, they contain more germs and bacteria than any other part of the body. When you rub your eyes with dirty hands, you transfer germs directly to your eyes. Consequently, serious infections may develop, one of which is conjunctivitis. Also known as pinkeye, conjunctivitis has the potential to damage your vision, although long-term problems are rare.

3. You can scratch the cornea.

Your hands often carry more than just germs. They also carry dirt, dust and other foreign bodies. If particles get into your eye, you may feel the urge to rub. However, rubbing can actually push the foreign matter further into your eye and cause a scratched cornea. While small scratches are often harmless, they can make your eye red and irritated. And, larger cuts can lead to infections and scars. Ultimately, any type of scratch has the potential to cause long-term vision damage. 

4. It can thin the cornea.

Continuous eye rubbing has been linked to a thinning of the cornea, or keratoconus. In short, keratoconus is a progressive eye disease where the cornea thins and becomes more conical. Normally, the cornea is round, helping focus the light that comes into the eye. However, because this condition forms a cone-like bulge, vision can become distorted. A person with keratoconus may experience progressive nearsightedness and astigmatism, a common condition that causes blurred vision.

5. Rubbing your eyes releases more histamines.

When the body comes into contact with allergens, it will naturally release histamines. If you suffer from allergies, you understand the histamine response all too well. Histamines can lead to inflammation, and in turn, cause itchy, red and watery eyes. During allergy season, you might be tempted to rub your eyes to stop the itching. However, pressing on your eyes can release additional histamines. This only serves to make them more irritated.

Stop Before You Rub Your Eyes

Whether you have allergies, chronic dryness or something stuck in your eye, you may feel the need to rub your eyes to provide relief. But, the best way to prevent eye rubbing in the first place is to address what’s making you itch. Do you need prescription eye drops to combat dry eye? Should you be on antihistamines?

If at-home remedies fail to provide relief, schedule an appointment with the optometrists at Looking Glass Optical. We’ll help you get to the bottom of your ocular problem and recommend a treatment that works for you.