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Common Causes of Itchy Eyes and Red Eyes
Eyes that are itchy and red can be frustrating to deal with, especially if the cause is unknown. There are many different reasons behind these eye issues, and it is important to identify the source.
Frequent causes of red and itchy eyes
There are a variety of conditions that can cause red and itchy eyes. Here are a few of the most common causes and how they are treated.
1. Dry eye
Dry eye, commonly called keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a common condition in which the eyes are unable to produce enough tears for proper lubrication. In addition to itchy and red eyes, symptoms can include discharge, irritation, sensitivity to light and blurred vision. It can also cause a gritty type of feeling, as if there is a foreign object in the eye. If this condition is not properly treated, it can lead to complications such as scarring of the cornea. Artificial tears and certain medications are successful treatment options.
2. Eye strain
Eye strain, sometimes referred to as asthenopia, is when the eye muscles are tired from strenuous use. The most common causes behind this strain are driving for extended periods of time or frequent use of digital devices. Symptoms include headache, eyes that feel itchy and tired, dry and burning sensations in the eyes, and blurred vision. Eye strain does not have any complications, but it is an uncomfortable feeling.
Treatment revolves around preventing future strain. This includes taking frequent breaks so eyes can rest and changing screen settings on digital devices. Artificial tears can relieve symptoms.
3. Eye allergies
Eye allergies, known as allergic conjunctivitis, occur when the immune system overreacts to an allergen and causes an allergic reaction. The eyes then produce histamines to get rid of the allergen, causing symptoms. In addition to burning, teary, red and itchy eyes, allergies can also cause light sensitivity.
Those with eye allergies will often have nasal allergies as well and have symptoms such as sore throat, stuffy nose and sneezing. Treatment options include decongestants, artificial tears and antihistamines, as well as the avoidance of triggering allergens such as pollen, mold and pet dander.
4. Contact lenses
There are multiple reasons why contacts can cause itchy and red eyes. These include an allergic reaction to contact solution, dry eyes, defective lenses and a corneal ulcer. Improper care of lenses, as well as wearing them too often, can also cause these symptoms.
5. Pink eye
Pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, is a contagious infection that causes the conjunctiva, which is the lining of the front of the eye, to become inflamed or irritated. There are three types; allergic, viral and bacterial pink eye. The symptoms are red, watery and itchy eyes; discharge; and light sensitivity. Treatment options depend on the type and include prescription drops.
There are many reasons for red, itchy eyes. It is important to see an optometrist to determine what the cause is and what treatment option is best.
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