The Dangers of Eye Rubbing: Why You Should Not Be Rubbing Your Eyes

19 FEB 2020

Eye health

Excessive eye rubbing can be highly dangerous in any given situation. Think about this, we wouldn’t be rubbing our eyes up against a keyboard but that’s basically what we’re doing when we touch our eyes without washing our hands.

We use our hands to do just about everything, from picking up and scanning our phone, using a keyboard, preparing and eating food, touching our hair, going to the bathroom, emptying the bins, and, well, most things we do in a day.

At any one time there are hundreds of thousands of tiny bacteria, and potentially viruses, living on our skin.

Then, our eyes get itchy, and before washing our hands, we instinctively take the same hand that we were using on the keyboard, up to our eyes and we rub them, without thinking about what we’ve just used our hands for. This is a severe problem.

Temporary relief after eye rubbing

We experience temporary relief when we rub our eyes because we stimulate our lacrimal glands which produce tears that lubricate and soothe the eyes resulting in them not feeling irritated.

By bringing our fingers up to our face we also transfer bacteria living on the hands like pseudomonas and staphylococcus which can increase the risk of eye infections.

Most of us have experienced itchy eyes. When we rub them, we get temporary relief, but it can actually make the itching worse and end up damaging the eyes.

Eye damage caused by excessive eye rubbing

If we rub our eyes too hard, we can break the tiny blood vessels around the eyes which causes those dark unwanted circles that we try to get rid of with homemade remedies or makeup.

If they keep feeling itchy, and we keep putting pressure on our eyes with our fingers, they will feel even more irritated, which can result in redness and puffiness.

After the temporary relief, they may feel even itchier and more irritated than before. Rubbing the eyes continually can also cause some people thinning of the cornea.

Excessive eye rubbing, whether due to chronic dryness, itchiness, or merely habit, should be addressed to avoid unpleasant consequences.

What to do when you have itchy eyes

If you have something stuck in your eye, clean your hands for at least 20 seconds, using soap and clean water and dry them with a clean towel, then, wash your eyes out with sterile saline or a lubricant eye drop.

When you feel tempted to touch your eyes, instead of itching them, reach for an eye drop to help soothe the irritation.

Artificial tears imitate natural tears. They can help stop the itch that makes you want to rub your eyes and will keep them hydrated.

If eye itchiness is a persistent problem, contact your local Eyecare Plus optometrist to book an appointment.

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