Do you rub your eyes often? You should know that this can lead to several problems, which we explain in this article.
Rubbing your eyes is not without consequences, despite being a daily gesture that people do without being aware of it, for example when they wake up or when sitting in front of a computer.
Regular itching can be felt due to many external factors. Pollution, tiredness or allergies can make you want to rub your eyes. Rubbing our eyes usually feels good, but we should not forget that our eyes are very sensitive. So, what are the risks of rubbing your eyes?
What is dangerous is the repetition of this action because it places considerable pressure on the cornea and can lead to significant vision impairments and corneal deformation.
Rubbing your eyes may thin and distort the cornea. This condition is called keratoconus. It is a corneal disease that is irreversible and can lead to significant visual impairments. The cornea plays an important role in vision. It transmits light rays to the lens and therefore provides a clear image.
Visual impairments can be corrected with glasses or special lenses. In extreme cases, rubbing your eyes too often can lead to corneal transplant surgery. Spherical in nature, the cornea takes the shape of a cone, as the name suggests. As a result, there may be several consequences, such as:
- Blurred vision
- Progressive onset of astigmatism or myopia
- High sensitivity to light
- If the deformation is too extreme, the cornea may be torn
- Difficulty closing the eyelids
- Red eyes
Small blood vessels can burst when you rub your eyes, and this can lead to bleeding from the conjunctiva. Our eyes are then weakened and become red. The blood will spread through the surrounding tissues and cause dark circles under your eyes.
Foreign bodies can enter the eyes and create micro-scratches on the cornea, which can cause various damage. If an injury to the cornea occurs, the eyes should not be rubbed as this will worsen the situation. Micro-scratches may result in:
- A feeling of discomfort in the eye
- Blurred or decreased vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Very watery eyes
If the injury is small, it can resolve and treat itself in 24 to 48 hours. However, there are more serious cases that need to be addressed with an operation.
Rubbing your eyes with your hands can introduce bacteria into your eyes, which can cause infections. Despite being washed regularly, our hands are carriers of bacteria. Our hands are in contact with many objects throughout our day. Unfortunately, bacteria are not visible to the naked eye, so it is better not to touch your eyes to limit the risks.
- Dry eyes
Finally, rubbing your eyes dries them out and you can suffer from dry eye. As mentioned earlier, when you suffer from keratoconus, it may be more difficult to close your eyelids. If your eyes remain barely open, they will become dry and it would be difficult to blink to hydrate them.
A few tips for preventing keratoconus
- If you have an itchy eye, treat the cause of itching:
- If it’s an allergy, have an allergy check-up.
- If it is a poor optical correction, use appropriate glasses to avoid visual fatigue.
- If the desire to rub your eyes is too great, pull slightly on the outside of your eyelids and then blink very hard several times to hydrate your cornea.
- If astigmatism occurs in children or adolescents, it is imperative to perform a keratoconus test.
A few tips to prevent dry eye
- Hygiene is an important step in preventing dry eye. Firstly, remember to wash your hands regularly. Then, make regular eyelid hygiene part of your routine. To do this, the first step will be to heat your eyelids with a warming mask or warm compresses. Then gently massage the eyelids (top to bottom for the upper eyelid and from bottom to top for the lower eyelid). Finally, remember to clean your eyelids with wipes suitable for dry eyes. This will remove the poor-quality meibum that has been extracted thanks to the previous steps.
- Lifestyle is also essential. A balanced diet contributes to the well-being of your eyes by providing the necessary vitamins and minerals. Regular exercise and being well hydrated are also important. It is recommended to drink between 1.5 and 2 litres of water per day. If your body is well hydrated, your eyes will be, too!
- Protect your eyes from external influences. Wind, sun and smoke are all causes of dry eye. Wear protective eyewear to avoid contact with these factors. You will experience fewer symptoms outside and your eyes will be less likely to be damaged.
You will find more advice in our news item on “dry eye and preventive actions”.
IF THE PROBLEM PERSISTS, SEE AN OPHTHALMOLOGIST.