As soon as our eyes start itching, our natural response is to rub them frantically. Unfortunately, this remedy is ineffective, and the risks of rubbing your eyes range from exacerbating the itch to causing long-term damage. Those who face the highest risk of complications from eye rubbing include people with allergies and underlying eye conditions. Want to find out why you should stop rubbing your eyes? Read on to learn more.

1.  Minimise the Risk of Infection

Most of the time, your hands are often more full of germs than any other part of your body. When you rub your eyes, you can transfer those germs and small particles from your hands to the cornea, which can lead to irritations and eye infections such as conjunctivitis.

Even if you frequently wash and sanitise your hands, you can’t keep them germ-free all day. If you’d rather avoid infections that are both unsightly and can cause complications, you should simply stop rubbing your eyes – regardless of how seriously you take hygiene.

2.  Reduce the risk of long-term eye disease

In most cases, conjunctivitis is a relatively harmless infection that you can treat with over-the-counter medications. However, in more serious cases, continuous eye rubbing can lead to long-term inflictions and even vision loss. Clinical studies show that constant eye rubbing causes the corneal tissue to thin, which is a disease called keratoconus. The symptoms of keratoconus include distorted vision. Many people with the disease ultimately require a corneal transplant.

3.  Prevent dark circles and bloodshot eyes

Believe it or not, rubbing your eyes can affect your appearance, and not just temporarily. After rubbing your eyes, you may look as if you’ve just woken up. But rub your eyes continuously, and you may cause tiny blood vessels to burst. Eventually, this can lead to permanent, dark bags under bloodshot eyes. You’re better off leaving that itch alone or using eye drops if you want to retain your youthful looks.  

4.  Avoid injuries

When something gets stuck in your eye, your natural instinct may be to rub frantically in an attempt to remove it. Unfortunately, though that seems to be the perfectly natural response, it’s usually not a smart idea. In fact, rubbing your eye to remove a dust particle or small foreign object is the worst thing you can do. You may scratch your cornea, which could lead to a painful abrasion.

Corneal abrasions aren’t just painful; they can take a long time to heal, and they’re highly prone to infections that can cause long-term vision problems. If you get something stuck in your eye, let your body’s natural defence mechanism – tears – deal with the problem. If that doesn’t work, try eye drops. If you still can’t remove whatever’s stuck, visit an eye specialist.

5.  Eye rubbing can make your eyes itchier

Perhaps the simplest reason to stop rubbing your itchy eyes is that the method is very unlikely to prove effective. You might feel some short-term relief as you rub your eyes, but the irritation will likely worsen if you rub them too much.

When you rub itchy eyes, your immune system releases histamines. The main function for this is to defend you from allergens, but it can also lead to inflamed, itchy and swollen eyes. So, as it turns out, itching those itchy eyes could make them even itchier, not to mention lead to infection and long-term vision problems.

How to Deal with Itchy Eyes

Sometimes, you can use eye drops, a cold or hot compress, or even tea bags to alleviate itchy eyes. But if you have a persistent problem, you might want to get checked out before a small issue leads to something much worse. Send us a message or contact us on (02) 9230 0010 to book an appointment with one of the eye specialists at George Street Eye Centre.