Burning or stinging sensations in your eyes can be concerning and uncomfortable. It can be a symptom of an underlying condition. This blog will discuss the potential causes, prevention steps, treatment, and remedies for burning and watery eyes. Whichever the reason may be, burning indicates a lack of lubrication in the eyes which can either go away quickly or last for months. So, let’s dig in and find out more!
Why Do My Eyes Burn?
If you are experiencing a burning sensation in your eyes or around your eye skin, keep reading because this blog will explore all the possible reasons why your eyes burn. Here are some of those reasons:
It can be a potential reason why your eyes burn. Eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, can be triggered by various foreign particles or allergens such as dust, pet dander, pollens, mold spores, smoke, and perfumes. Furthermore, even certain foods can trigger allergies. Various allergens cause eye irritation, so the body releases histamine to fight those allergy-causing substances. The allergy irritates the eyes, which produce histamine to fight against the allergen. Some possible symptoms of eye allergies include light sensitivity, itchy eyes, tearing, redness, swelling, etc.
Blepharitis is another reason for burning eyes due to inflammation of the corners of eyelids because of a bacterial infection or clogged oil glands in eyelashes. This inflammation causes a burning sensation, crusting, swollen eyelids, itching, and redness. However, it is not contagious.
As the name suggests, dry eyes lack eye lubricant (tears), without which you might experience burning in your eyes. The lack of lubrication occurs due to the drying of the tear duct. It usually suggests issues with the lacrimal gland, which generally ensures the tear duct’s functioning and the tears’ formation. Therefore, a lack of proper lubrication can cause stinging, itching, and even blurred vision. Adequate water, oil, and mucus balance is required to compose a healthy tear. Any imbalance in the right proportions of components can cause dry eyes and, eventually, a burning sensation. Females and older people are more prone to dry eyes syndrome. Specific environmental triggers and health conditions can also influence the drying of eyes as follows:
- Diseases like Thyroid disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and diabetes
- Environmental conditions like smoke, dust, and arid environments
Our DNA sets us apart, and that’s why different people react to the same set of environments differently. For example, to some people dealing with exogenous chemicals is normal, but to others, it can be a life-threatening experience.
Likewise, some people are more prone to specific pollutants or chemical substances and experience a burning sensation or irritation in their eyes, for example, chlorine which is present mainly in swimming pools, cigarettes experienced by passive smokers, smoke as certain carcinogens irritate, and fragrances because solid scents can trigger eye irritation.
While some people despise high humidity simply due to the frizziness of hair, some people cannot stand low humidity as it triggers scalp, skin, and even eye dryness. However, this is a seasonal dryness condition that differs from the chronic dry eyes explained above. Therefore, next time you experience burning in your eyes, give a humidity check to your environment.
Pterygium, also known as surfer’s eye, is a tissue overgrowth on the eye surface that can cause burning and dryness in the early stages while lesions are in the later stages. The lesion usually develops on the white area close to the nose but can also be formed on the outer surface. The cause of pterygium may be ultraviolet (UV) rays or dry eyes, which damage the cornea and vision.
Another culprit of burning eyes is ocular Rosacea, where the skin around your eyes or eyelids becomes inflamed and causes burning, swelling, crusting, itching, and redness. It affects people suffering from rosacea (flushing or redness on the face). Around the United States, 14 million people suffer from Rosacea.
Photokeratitis is also called eye sunburn. Due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun, lasers, tanning beds, lamps, solar eclipse, sun reflection from snow, or construction materials, you can contract photokeratitis. This can cause burning of the eyes and other symptoms like pain, light sensitivity, watering, and headaches. Therefore, it is always recommended to use sun protection on the skin and around the eyes.
Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
Pink eye is also known as viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, a highly contagious infection that can spread via coughing, sneezing, or sharing personal items like towels or makeup. It causes inflammation on the surface of the eye and inside. Its symptoms include crusting, redness, watering, itching, and burning in the eyes. Frequent handwashing can help minimize the spread.
Chickenpox virus, also called varicella-zoster, can cause painful blisters on the skin. These blisters can spread to one or both eyes, accompanied by crusting, redness, and burning, and are called Shingles.
Last but not least, Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune condition where the body’s cells attack the healthy cells, resulting in decreased moisture production in the body, including the eyes. Hence, tear production is affected, which causes burning or dryness in the eyes due to a lack of lubrication.
Why Do My Eyes Burn When I Close Them?
When you close them, the burning sensation in your eyes can be due to any of the reasons they burn when they are open. Closing your eyes should give relief due to less light exposure and more lubrication. But if it is causing pain and a burning sensation. It can be due to a condition known as angle-closure glaucoma, which may be why you feel your eyes burning when you close them. Seek medical care immediately to avoid worsening the situation.
Also Read: Pink Eye in Newborns: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Why Do My Eyes Suddenly Burn In Water?
If you experience excess watering and burning in your eyes, it can be due to the following mild to severe conditions including:
- You might be allergic to smoke or dust and thus experience watering and burning in smoky or dusty environments.
- You might have an eye injury or anything that has accidentally fallen in your eyes, like dust or sand particles causing watering or burning.
- You might have fallen prey to an eye infection or allergy (conjunctivitis)
- You have a blockage in the tear duct, or you have dry eye syndrome.
- You might be suffering from Bell’s palsy, which causes a temporary weakness in one side of the face.
How To Cure Burning, Watery Eyes?
If the condition is mild, some home remedies can help reduce the pain and treat watering or burning in the eyes as follows:
- Eye Drops: Some over-the-counter lubricants can help to improve the moisture level by providing lubrication.
- Cleaning Eyelids: To remove dirt or crusting residues from eyelids, consider washing with a gentle mixture of water and baby shampoo. Pat dry with a clean towel.
- Cold or Hot Compress: Use a clean washcloth soaked in ice-cold or boiling water. Gently remove the excess water by pressing it between hands and applying it to the eyes for 5-10 minutes. This technique can help alleviate the symptoms of blepharitis, photokeratitis, and pink eye.
- Eyewash: Doctors recommend a gentle eyewash to flush out allergens like pollen or dust particles. The eye wash kit usually comes with saline water and a cup.
- Antihistamines: These are allergy medicines and can help cure the symptoms of pink eye or eye allergies. You can also take medicines in eye drops form or pill formulations.
Note that these remedies can only be helpful to treat mild infections or allergies; in case of severe conditions, consult your healthcare provider.
How Can I Prevent Burning Eyes?
Nobody wants to contract an eye infection deliberately. However, unwanted life situations can happen to anyone at any time. But as said, “prevention is better than cure.” Therefore, by following these tips, you can minimize exposure to allergens or viruses and thus reduce the chances of contracting an eye infection.
We should be gentle with our eyes. Avoid rubbing your eyes as the area around the eyes is very sensitive, and any harsh move can damage the veins underneath. Therefore, while applying anything on your face, use your little finger as it exerts the minimum force.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Most of us know what works as a trigger for an allergic reaction to us, but some of us don’t. Therefore, take an allergy test recommended by your healthcare provider if something causes an allergic reaction, like frequent sneezing, watering, or burning of the eyes. Once you figure it out, avoid it at all costs to prevent the worst-case scenario.
Reduce fragrance exposure
Strong fragrances are allergy triggers for some people; therefore, minimize using personal care products and cleaners with fragrances; instead, try fragrance-free products to avoid any triggers.
Take extra care while swimming.
Use goggles while swimming and shower afterward to wash away any allergens or potential disease-causing microbes.
Sunscreen for the face? Protect your eyes, too.
Don’t forget your eyes when it comes to sun protection. UV rays can penetrate your eyes too, and cause various eye conditions. Therefore, wear polarized glasses to avoid damage from UV rays.
Don’t share, don’t spread.
Avoid sharing personal care items like towels, eye drops, and makeup to prevent pink eye germs or other contagious eye germs from entering your body.
Good hygiene for healthy eyes
Good hygiene is necessary to prevent harmful germs. Therefore, wash your hands often and avoid touching your face frequently, especially before and after eating.
When to Consult a Doctor?
The eyes are a sensitive yet integral organ of our body, and any minor negligence can significantly affect the quality of our sight. Therefore, if the burning or stinging continues after 1 or 2 days without apparent cause, you should consult your doctor immediately, especially if other symptoms like fever, rash, blurred vision, and headache accompany the burning.
While burning your eyes is a symptom of an eye condition (conjunctivitis) during diabetes, it is not the sole cause of your eyes burning. In diabetic patients, reduced tear secretion due to prolonged duration can lead to burning, discomfort, and stinging of the eyes, accompanied by redness, discharge, and eyelid stickiness. During diabetes, the body experiences inflammation due to high blood sugar, which hinders the lacrimal glands’ ability to produce tears, resulting in dryness and eye pain.
Dehydration can cause a burning sensation in your eyes due to dryness of eye lubricant. It can cause blurry vision and itching due to friction, indicating a lack of moisture.
One of the most common symptoms of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar level is blurry vision and dry eyes accompanied by black spots, dimness in sight, a central black hole, or even complete vision loss in some cases.
Anything that causes dehydration of the eyes can cause burning and stinging. Mild symptoms are typical as it signals the brain to send more tears, but a severe condition indicates an underlying eye condition that needs a proper check-up from the doctor.
Blinking with accompanying pain shows something is affecting your cornea while eyelids move across the surface (cornea). It can be due to dry eyes, corneal abrasion, stye (eyelid infection), conjunctivitis, or trauma.
The morning eye is the eye irritation in the morning. It is usually the result of dry eyes when your eyes lack lubrication or tears evaporate too quickly.
Excessive exposure to screens, white light, or prolonged focusing, such as while driving, can cause fatigue in your eyes. Therefore, eye strain can happen due to tired eye muscles.