The eyes are forever exposed to the environmental hazards such as dust, pet hair, pet dander, etc. and to allergens such as grass, trees, pollen, weeds, etc. In addition, the eyes are perennially moist. Hence, all these pollutants and allergens have a tendency to attach themselves to the surface of the eyes and cause its irritation.
Allergic reactions or irritation of the eyes due to the above reasons and due to other conditions such as dry eyes and blepharitis result in itchy eyes.
Allergic reactions of the eyes may be seasonal or perennial in nature.
Symptoms of itchy eyes
Some of the symptoms of itchy eyes are as follows:
- Inflammation or swelling of the conjunctiva leading to enlargement of the blood vessels in the eyes.
- The eyes are a mild red or bloodshot red in appearance
- There may be a watery discharge from the eyes
- There may be swelling of the eyelids, severe itching, and a sensation of burning or tearing of the eyes
- Atopic keratoconjunctivitis causes inflammation of the cornea as well as the conjunctiva and is characterized by red patches on the eyelids that are extremely itchy, crusts or scales on the eyelids along with a deep discharge from the eyes. The eyelids may thicken and the eyes may become photo sensitive. Constant scratching and rubbing of the eyes may result in permanent scarring or changes in vision
- Vernal keratoconjunctivitis affects the male teens and young adults more than females and occurs in late spring. It is characterized by itchy and light sensitive eyes, droopy or heavy eyelids and a discharge that is stringy. The insides of the upper eyelids may appear full of tiny raised structures or cobblestoned.
- Giant papillary conjunctivitis is caused due to contact lens allergies and is characterized by large bumps or lumps on the conjunctiva below the upper eyelid, increased redness of the eyes, a thick and heavy discharge, and severe itching.
- Contact eye allergies or eyelid allergies caused due to direct contact with foreign allergens such as eyeliner, eye creams, eye ointments, contact lens solutions, etc. and is characterized by eyelid blisters, increased redness and itching of the eyes as well as red and watery conjunctiva. Lon term use of the alien substances may result in persistent thickening and inflammation of the eyelids.
Causes of itchy eyes
Some of the causes of itchy eyes are listed below:
- When the eyes are subjected to irritation by foreign substances like pollen, dust, pet hair, etc. then the body releases certain chemicals, especially histamine, to counter the invasion of the eyes. Overproduction and release of the chemical substances are allergic reactions and lead to itchy eyes and its symptoms.
- The allergic reactions of the eyes may also be caused due to contact lenses or contact lens solutions.
- Infections by bacteria, increased food allergies and sensitivities, fabrics, cosmetics, soaps and other substances may also cause allergic reactions and result in itchy eyes.
- Existing conditions like hay fever or atopic eczema may lead to the development of itchy eyes
Itchy Eyes Treatment, Relief
- Cleaning the eyes with lukewarm water or an eye solution may help in alleviating the symptoms of itchy eyes.Medications such as topical antihistamines & decongestants, topical mast-cell stabilizers and topical anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat itchy eyes
- In case, itchy eyes persist, then a visit to a doctor is essential.
- Preventive measures include avoidance of allergens like dust, pollen, contact lens or contact lens solutions, etc.