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Why You Should Not Rub Your Eyes

Dry Eye Girl 640×350Though it may seem harmless, rubbing your eyes is something many of us do from time to time. Doing so feels good because it stimulates tear flow and eye lubrication, which offers relief for dry eyes and helps remove dust and other irritants. Furthermore, rubbing your eyes can be therapeutic, as pressing down on your eyeball stimulates the vagus nerve, which decreases your heart rate, thus relieving stress.

So why do eye doctors advise against rubbing your eyes? That’s because rubbing your eyes poses a threat, especially now, as COVID-19 can be spread through the eyes' mucous membranes. Moreover, rubbing can potentially damage your eyes’ structure and vision.

How is Rubbing Your Eyes Harmful?

  • Continuous eye rubbing in susceptible individuals can cause the cornea to thin and weaken, leading it to bulge forward and become more cone-like. This is known as keratoconus — a serious condition that can lead to distorted vision and ultimately the need for a corneal transplant or specialized contact lenses, such as scleral lenses.
  • If you have a foreign object in your eye, your natural instinct is likely to rub it in an attempt to remove the object. However, this can potentially cause more damage as the object can scratch the cornea. Instead, try flushing it out with saline solution or artificial tears.
  • From a hygienic perspective, it’s important to remember that your hands are covered in germs and bacteria. Therefore, sticking a finger that hasn't been thoroughly washed with soap and water into your eyes can cause an infection, such as conjunctivitis, to flare up. Recent evidence shows that the coronavirus can also be transferred from the hands to the eyes.
  • Rubbing is harmful to people with certain pre-existing eye conditions. If you have progressive myopia (short-sightedness caused by a lengthened eyeball) or glaucoma (a condition that damages the optic nerve), rubbing your eyes can exacerbate the condition and worsen eyesight. Eye rubbing is particularly bad for a glaucoma patient with already heightened eye pressure. It can engender nerve damage and permanent vision loss.
  • Retinal tear or detachment can occur due to the heightened eye pressure caused by the rubbing.
  • Excessive eye rubbing can negatively affect your appearance. It can cause tiny blood vessels to break, resulting in bloodshot eyes, dark circles and wrinkles around the eyes.

Why Do You Rub Your Eyes?

When your eyes are feeling itchy, it is natural to rub them. Sometimes you do it and are not even aware you are rubbing your eyes. But this can cause some big problems.  Sometimes rubbing your eyes just makes it worse because they itch and bother you even more. This happens because rubbing your eyes causes the release of histamines. Histamines can start the itching and allergy response. Allergy medicines are commonly called anit-histamines because they block histamines. This is the way they stop itching.

Rubbing your eyes isn’t all bad, sometimes it can temporarily help. It releases more tears, which in turn causes the meibomian glands, situated within your eyelids, to secrete much-needed oil into our eyes. That adds moisture and protects your tears from evaporating.

However, if you frequently rub your eyes because they are dry or irritated, contact Dr. Harold Ashcraft immediately.

What You Can Do To Stop Rubbing Your Eyes

Keep your eyes hydrated by using artificial tears or eye drops. They can be found over the counter at the pharmacy, and are especially effective against dry eyes. Certain eye drops, such as antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers, can be prescribed by Dr. Harold Ashcraft to help prevent the itchy feeling that leads you to instinctually rub your eyes. In more severe cases, such as in allergy sufferers, steroid eye drops can be used to avoid chronic eye rubbing.

Excessive eye rubbing, whether due to chronic dry eye, itchy eyes, or habit, should be addressed to prevent any ocular and vision damage. Contact Family Eyecare Center of Optometry at  Westchester, Los Angeles to schedule a visit, determine the cause of your itchiness, and find out which drops to use in your specific case.

 

Springtime Survival Guide: 8 Steps to Beat Eye Allergies

sneezing

After an unusually wet winter, we are excited spring is here! Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and the days are getting longer. While there is so much beauty all around, some people are suffering the downside of springtime: seasonal allergies.

Yes, this includes sneezing, congestion, and runny noses. But did you know that many people’s eyes are also affected by allergies? Eye allergies, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, are caused by the inflammation of the conjunctiva. This is the tissue inside the eyelid that ensures the eyelid and eyeball stay moist.

Have your eyes recently experienced any of the following?

 

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Puffiness
  • Tearing up
  • A burning or gritty sensation
  • Blurry vision

If so, you may be in the same boat as millions of other Americans with eye allergy symptoms. These symptoms are not only frustrating to deal with, but they also affect your productivity and make completing simple tasks seem impossible.

What Causes My Eye Allergies?

Allergies are caused by your immune systems response to a foreign substance in your body. Eye allergy symptoms can be caused by a number of factors. The most common indoor and outdoor allergens include dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, or pollen (this can be from trees, grasses, or weeds). Irritants like smoke, dirt, chemicals, and even perfume can also cause similar eye irritations.

Many patients have the most problems with their allergy symptoms during the spring and early fall.

“How To Treat Itchy Eyes Caused By Allergies”

8 Steps to Prevent Your Eye Allergies From Taking Over

Your eyes are very susceptible to irritants and allergens. The best way to avoid eye allergy symptoms is to avoid the allergens in the first place. Here are some basic prevention tips:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. Rubbing your eyes causes your body to release histamines, which worsens your symptoms.
  • Keep your eyes clean with artificial tears. This helps wash away the allergens causing an allergic reaction.
  • Use cold compresses on your eyes to decrease irritation and to provide relief.
  • Take out your contacts when symptoms get bad. Allergens can get in between your eyes and the lenses and make everything feel worse.
  • Be cautious about sharing products that come into contact with your eyes. That means don’t share your eye makeup or contact lenses with another person.
  • Clean your living spacefrequently. Vacuum, dust, and change the air filters to ensure the circulation of clean air.
  • Wash pillowcases and bedding in hot water to get rid of allergens.

My Allergy Symptoms Are Not Going Away. Help!

Over-the-counter medications or prescription treatments are an option if symptoms continue to persist. Talk with Dr. Ashcraft about what he recommends for your needs. With a little help, many people’s allergy symptoms can be managed. With so many beautiful things to see and do this spring, don’t let seasonal allergies get in your way!

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15HyBmlY0Mw

 

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We Are Open! COVID-19 ReOpening—Expectations
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety and well-being of our patients, staff and doctors is our first priority. Read Safety Protocols. Please read our safety protocols here.