For some, dry itchy eyes come with excruciating pain and for others, it’s just a nuisance. Whatever your case may be, there are things you can do to remedy dry itchy eyes right in the comfort of your home. According to Johns Hopkins, itchiness and dryness are most commonly caused by allergies, but there are other contributing factors too. Learn more about what can cause dry eyes, how to treat them, what you should avoid and when you should contact your doctor.
Why are my eyes itchy and dry?
You may experience dry or itchy eyes for a few reasons. While this can be frustrating, it can also be a serious health concern that you need to address. You may have dry, itchy eyes for any of the following reasons:
- Contact lens issues
- Eye infection
- Pink eye
- An eye irritant
- Chronic dry eye
All of these concerns can grow serious if left untreated for a prolonged time, as they could potentially cause damage to your eyes.
Common symptoms of dry and itchy eyes
Besides dryness and itchiness, other symptoms of dry eyes may include:
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Mucus-like substance around eyes
How to treat dry eyes
Many things that cause eye dryness and itchiness can be managed from home. Here’s what you can try.
Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated helps keep your eyes moist and producing healthy tears. According to the Mayo Clinic, men should consume 15.5 cups of water daily; women, 11.5 cups. Keep in mind that these recommendations also include water from foods consumed.
Use a humidifier
Your eyes can dry out when the air around you is too dry. Using a humidifier in your home can add some moisture back into the air, which can help ease some of that dryness you’re experiencing in your eyes. This can be especially helpful in the colder months when the air is drier.
Consume omega-3 fatty acids
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids could help relieve dry eyes. You can get omega-3s from supplements or foods like salmon or tuna. It is believed that the omega-3s can reduce the inflammation your eyes may have. The inflammation can be tied to dryness and itchiness, and the research suggests that reducing the inflammation can, in turn, reduce the itchiness.
Wash your eyelashes
It’s always important to gently wash your eyelashes, as they’re quite close to your eyes and can cause damage if you’re not careful. If you get eyelash extensions or use false eyelashes, you’re even more likely to run into eye concerns, as these lashes could get dirt or bacteria in your eyes. Research has linked eyelash extensions to ocular disorders like dry eyes, so ensure you’re keeping your lashes and the surrounding area clean.
Blinking quickly can do a few things for your eyes. For one, it can help clear any debris out of your eye if that’s what’s causing issues. The blinking also encourages your tears to moisten your eyes. When exposed to the air, your eyes will naturally dry out, but blinking brings the moisture back and clears out anything unwanted.
Try a warm or cold compress
Placing a warm compress over your eyes could help alleviate irritation. According to Harvard Health, a warm compress encourages your tear ducts to get to work in producing tears. In contrast, a cool compress can soothe any inflammation or irritation you’re experiencing.
Use eye drops or medication
Turning to medication is always an option if you have a lot of dryness and itchiness. Over-the-counter eye drops can help hydrate your eyes, target redness and ease itchiness. If you see a doctor, you may also get a prescription medication encouraging tears. Your doctor might suggest targeting the root cause (like allergies).
What not to do
There are a few things you can avoid doing, as they’ll only exacerbate your dry eyes. Try to stay away from the following:
- Rubbing your eyes
- Letting air blow directly into your eyes
- High altitudes
- Places with dry air, like deserts or airplanes
- Wearing contact lenses too long
When to see an eye doctor
If dry, itchy eyes lead to more intense symptoms like nausea, swelling or vision loss, it’s time to see an eye doctor. Dry eyes can be manageable at home, but once it starts affecting other parts of your body, it’s a sign of a larger issue. If your vision has changed while experiencing itchiness — double vision, spots in your vision, etc. — it is especially a concern and something you need to see a doctor about immediately.