· By Dr. Kaushal M. Kulkarni, M.D.
The Burning Eyes Solution
The burning, stinging, itchy, dry sensation of your eyes can leave you feeling miserable. Every blink can feel like temporary relief from the fire embers that your eyes have become. You desire to put the fire out. To do that, you should be aware that this sensation is a symptom of another underlying issue. It can indicate anything as simple as a cold or allergies to a more serious infection. In this article, we will explore possible causes of this condition, as well as treatment options to provide you some relief.
Burning eyes are characterized by a stinging or irritating sensation. This sensation may be uncomfortable for you and cause you concern. This condition may manifest along with other symptoms such as discharge, dryness, itching, watery, bloodshot. You may also experience some nasal symptoms like postnasal drip, runny nose, stuffiness, congestion, or sneezing.
There can be many reasons for this stinging sensation. If you are concerned you have a serious condition, visit your doctor immediately to help prevent the loss of vision or spread of infection. Your doctor will usually be able to correctly diagnose and treat your condition, especially if caught early. Let’s discuss in detail some of the possible causes.
What Causes Burning Eyes
Multiple factors may be causing this unpleasant sensation. Before proceeding to possible health issues, let’s first rule out any simple external factors that may be causing this to happen:
- Tobacco smoke
- Chlorine in swimming pools
- Extreme cold or hot dry air
- Wearing contact lens for prolonged periods
If any of the above factors may be causing your issue, limit your exposure to them. The stinging sensation will go away promptly. Now let’s get into some other possible causes:
Allergies: Inflammation caused by allergies may cause the condition. Known as allergic conjunctivitis, this usually manifests as tearing, itching, stinging, and redness. Millions of Americans experience this phenomenon. Some common triggers can include outdoor allergens, indoor allergens, localized allergens, or irritants. Outdoor allergens include things such as pollen from grass, trees, and weeds. Indoor allergens can be things like pet dander, dust mites, or mold. Localized allergens can be topical products you put on your skin, like makeup or moisturizers. Irritants can include cigarette smoke, perfume, or diesel exhaust.
Conjunctivitis: Also known as pink eye, this condition occurs when the conjunctiva is inflamed. This is the thin clear tissue on top of the white part of the ocular surface and lines the inside of the lids. This is caused by allergies, bacterial infection, or viruses, among other things. This is usually highly contagious, especially among children, but is rarely serious.
Flu or the common cold: People with upper respiratory infections may experience this burning alongside coughing, sneezing, headache, and congestion. Typically this condition clears up on its own without any serious complications, generally lasting about a week.
Blepharitis: Blepharitis occurs when the oil glands of the lids become clogged or irritated and lead to inflammation of the lid. This condition is characterized by itchy, oily, inflamed, swollen lids, accompanied by a stinging sensation. Some possible complications of this condition can be lash loss, scarring of the lid, and infection of the ocular surface.
Periorbital cellulitis/Preseptal cellulitis: This condition occurs when the tissues around the ocular surface become infected, possibly caused by an insect bite or the spread of a sinus infection. This causes redness and swelling of the lids and skins around the ocular surface. If you suspect this condition, we recommend you see a doctor immediately. It can cause permanent vision problems and even blindness if the infection spreads. Doctors will prescribe antibiotics and closely monitor patients with this condition.
Uveitis and iritis: Uveitis is the inflammation of the uvea, usually caused by an underlying condition or genetic factor. Iritis, also known as anterior uveitis, is the inflammation of the iris. Symptoms include redness, discomfort, light sensitivity, stinging, and decreased vision. If this condition is left untreated, it could also turn into a form of glaucoma or result in loss of vision. If you suspect this condition, contact a doctor immediately.
Burning Eyes Treatment
Now let’s talk about how to get some relief. Depending on what is causing your condition, there are varying ways to treat it. Often the sensation goes away on its own, especially if it is caused by an external factor. You may even try some home remedies. However, again, we cannot stress enough that it is important to see a qualified eye doctor first.
If you suspect allergies, narrow down what could be causing your allergic reaction. If it is an outdoor allergen, try to stay indoors when pollen counts are high. Wear sunglasses outside, and do not rub your eyes. For indoor allergens, keep windows closed, and use clean air conditioning units. Use mite-proof covers for bedding, washing with hot water frequently. Keep humidity in your home low to keep mold away. If exposed to pets, wash your hands and clothes after the encounter.
You may be able to neutralize the stinging sensation caused by allergies with over-the-counter artificial tears or antihistamines. Artificial tears can temporarily wash allergens away and provide much-needed moisture. Refrigerate the drops to provide added comfort. Decongestant drops can reduce redness, but do not use them for more than two or three days. This is because prolonged use can cause increased swelling and redness. Oral antihistamines can help relieve the itching of allergies, but they can also worsen symptoms. They also have additional side effects like sedation, dizziness, or poor coordination. If you still have trouble, consider consulting an allergist for more insight into your particular condition.
For conjunctivitis or the common cold, place a cool compress on the affected area 5 to 10 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day. You can also use artificial tears for relief. If you have bacterial conjunctivitis, consult your doctor about getting antibiotic drops or ointment.
When to Seek Medical Care
If you are experiencing your eyes burning regularly, or have other reasons to cause you concern, seek medical help. If you suspect blepharitis, preseptal cellulitis, uveitis/iritis, or any other type of ocular infection/inflammation, it will not be cured by artificial tears or cold compresses. You will need medical advice and treatment.
We urge you to get immediate treatment if the stinging sensation is also accompanied by these symptoms:
- Bleeding of the eyes
- Pus-like discharge
- Blurred or double vision
- A sudden change of vision
- Loss of vision
- Seeing flashing lights or floating objects
- Severe ocular pain
- Light sensitivity
We hope that this article has given you the information you needed in regards to your condition. Being aware of your symptoms and knowing the possible causes is the first step in finding the right solution for you. Oftentimes your burning eyes can be relieved with the use of artificial tears or cold compresses. If your condition is chronic, the best solution is to take the extra step to prevent it from happening. You can also help reduce the painful burning flame by adding moisture to your eyes with our Dry Eye supplement.