Expert Care by ER Physicians

Preventing Itchy and Runny Eyes

Posted by Tyler Weber on Thursday, November 29, 2018
Keywords: Allergies

There’s no doubt that the spring and fall often bring about those nagging seasonal allergies we all try to avoid. With it comes annoying symptoms such as itchy and runny or watery eyes. Although, allergies might not be the only thing causing you to rub your eyes constantly or feel like you need to put eye drops in every five minutes. Itchy or runny eyes are a pesky problem that can seem to never end, but knowing the cause of your eye troubles can often help decide which remedies will be useful or if you need to see a doctor.

Why Are My Eyes Itchy?

Itchy eyes can be a frustrating problem, especially if you deal with them often. There are various reasons that your eyes might feel irritated, some more common than others. Finding the cause can help determine how to alleviate your irritation or eliminate it altogether.

Itchy Eye Causes

More often than not, itchy eyes are caused by some sort of allergy, usually stemming from an irritating substance such as pollen, dust, or animal dander. These cause the release of compounds called histamines in the tissues around the eyes. This leads to redness and swelling, as well as itching.

Allergies can be mild or severe, and happen year-round or seasonally. Seasonal allergies are most common in the spring and fall when there are higher levels of pollen and more exposure to grass and weeds. Year-round allergies, or perennial, are caused by irritants such as mold and dust. In some cases, you may have irritation related to a product that you use. This could include contact lens solution, makeup, soaps, lotions, or even artificial tear drops.

Allergies are not the only thing that can cause itchy eyes, though. Other causes of itchy eyes could include:

  • Eyestrain - can be caused by looking at a screen for too long.
  • Dry eye - a condition where the eye does not get enough lubrication throughout the day
  • Blepharitis - a follicle has become blocked, causing inflammation of the eyelids
  • Conjunctivitis - a contagious infection that is often referred to as pink eye
  • Some medications

Home Remedies for Itchy Eyes

While you may not know exactly what is causing your itchy eyes right away, there are some things you can do to help alleviate the problem.

  • Apply a warm or cool compress. A warm compress may help relieve itchy eyes caused by allergies, and a cool compress can be of relief for eyes that are swollen and red.
  • Keep your eyes clean. This might be an obvious one, but keeping your eye and the area around your eye free of dirt, dust, and other particles may help alleviate some of the itchiness. Those who wear makeup should make sure to remove it before you go to sleep.
  • Utilize a humidifier. If you have dry, itchy eyes, it could be caused by dry air. Try using a humidifier to put some moisture back into the air and potentially help relieve your symptoms.
  • Don’t use contacts for a while. If your contact lenses have been bothering you, try using glasses for a while and see if that helps. If your eyes are itchy sometimes contacts can make it worse. If you think contacts may be the culprit to your irritated eyes, try speaking to your doctor about switching to a different kind.
  • Avoid allergens when possible. It might be hard in the spring and fall to avoid going outside completely, but when indoors try keeping the windows closed to prevent pollen from getting into the home. Regularly dust and vacuum, as well.

If you follow home remedies but are still experiencing persisting symptoms, head to the nearest Urgency Room.

Why Are My Eyes Runny?

Similarly to itchy eyes, runny or watery eyes are a frustrating problem that many people experience. Tearing is a normal function of the eye, but excessive tearing can be an underlying health issue. While they can also be from allergies, they are more likely caused by something else.

Your tears come from the tear gland, or lacrimal gland, located above the outer eye, and are composed of water, oil, and antibodies. The moisture that tears provide is essential to prevent damage to the cornea from dryness. Your tears drain from tear ducts, but if they become blocked it can cause excessive watering.

Causes of Runny Eyes

It is common to produce excess tears from laughing, vomiting or coughing, but there are several other reasons that might also cause your eyes to water.

Causes of watering eyes:

  • Allergies
  • Weather conditions such as wind
  • Common cold or flu
  • Ingrown eyelash
  • Blocked tear ducts
  • Pink eye
  • A cut or scrape on the eye
  • Some medications

Runny Eye Treatments

While runny eyes might not be too serious, it can be a nuisance. If after trying to treat the problem at home it still persists, a trip to your nearest Urgency Room might be beneficial.

Home remedies for runny eyes:

  • Warm compress over your eye several times a day
  • Eye drops

If you are unable to find relief at home, sometimes you need a professional opinion to find the right option.

Other treatments:

  • Treating allergies that cause watering eyes. Allergies can cause watering eyes year-round or seasonally. Sometimes, treating these allergies can help prevent excessive runny eyes.
  • Prescription eye drops. If over-the-counter eye drops aren’t helping, a doctor might prescribe some that will help restore moisture.
  • Antibiotics for an infection. If you have an infection, such as pink eye, causing runny eyes, then antibiotics might be prescribed to fight it off.
  • A surgical procedure. In some severe cases of blocked tear ducts, your doctor might suggest having surgery to fix the problem.

Treat Itchy and Runny Eyes at The Urgency Room

If you are continually aggravated by itchy or runny eyes, don’t wait to fix the problem. We’re open 365 days per year from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., including holidays. Head to your nearest Urgency Room in Eagan, Vadnais Heights, or Woodbury to be treated by board-certified emergency physicians in less time so you can get back to your normal routine without the annoying itchy or runny eyes.



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