Most people rub their eyes at some point, and the act is strangely comforting. However, we’ve also been told not to rub our eyes too much, or at all. Let’s see if this is true and also look at why we rub our eyes when they’re tired or for any other reason:
Common Causes of Eye Rubbing
There could be several reasons why we rub our eyes at any time. We might have allergies, eye infections, or a speck of dust inside an eye. Some folks might rub their eyes out of habit or as a reflex after they wake up or take off their contact lenses. However, it’s true that we should avoid this sort of rubbing, as it could end in eye damage if you do it too often.
Health Conditions that Might Cause Eye Rubbing
If you’re rubbing your eyes too much, this might be a sign of something serious. Consider the following health issues and make sure that you don’t need proper medical attention:
This is a regular eye infection, also known as pink eye. It’s a pretty common occurrence, but the main symptoms include itchy eyes. The infection is transmitted when you get the virus or bacteria on your hand or finger, which you then touch to your eye.
Other symptoms of this infection include a pink or red hue to your eyes, and clear or yellow liquid on the lashes. In some cases, the liquid might also collect on the sides of the eyes.
While the infection and its symptoms aren’t usually painful, they do cause a lot of discomfort and itching. You also don’t look too good while having pink eyes, so getting treatment immediately might be important.
Keep in mind that conjunctivitis is very contagious. You can easily catch it by just being around someone with the same condition. It’s best to avoid anyone who has pinkeye and also stay away from others until your infection clears up.
Allergies affect our bodies in different ways. For some people, being exposed to an allergen will cause runny noses, hives, and rashes. For others, it might cause discomfort or itching in the eyes among other symptoms.
When you get an allergy, you might be tempted to rub your eyes very hard. You might also be sneezing more often. Watering eyes and stuffy noses are also quite common in this regard.
In order to deal with this reason for rubbing eyes, we’d have to remove the allergen that’s causing it. This allergen might be food, pollen, insect stings, or certain medications.
This occurs when our eyelids get inflamed due to clogged oil glands. You may also expect crusty eyelashes, swollen eyes, and itching in that area.
Common Colds and Sinusitis
These conditions can dry out the eyes and make them itch. The same goes for eye strain, wearing contacts, and dry eyes due to medications.
Why We Shouldn’t Rub Our Eyes
Rubbing eyes might seem like a harmless task, but you’d notice that the action never seems to stop. The reason this rubbing feels so good is because you’re lubricating the eye, and stimulating tear flow. These two features give relief to dry eyes and might be removing irritants like fury. Plus, you’re stimulating the vagus nerve which helps to relieve stress by decreasing heart rate.
All of the above are reasons why it seems so therapeutic to rub your eyes. Unfortunately, eye doctors don’t advise rubbing your eyes at any time. Here are just a few of the most common reasons:
The spread of infection
Now that we have a novel virus to consider, the bacteria and germs spread through our hands are an even more alarming factor. Rubbing eyes will increase the risk of transmitting all kinds of diseases, not to mention possibly damaging the structure of the eyes.
If someone rubs their eyes continuously, certain individuals might explain a thinning and weakening of the cornea. This then leads to a cone-like structure for this eye part as well as a forward bulge. This condition is called keratoconus, which is quite serious. The result could be distorted vision and eventually lead to the patient needing a transplant or special contact lenses.
Damage from a foreign object
Eyes could be susceptible to many types of foreign objects; a grain of sand, smoke, or a shard of something else. Rubbing might be instinctual here, but it could result in a lot of damage if the object scratches the cornea.
If such a situation arises, go for flushing out the foreign object using saline solution. Artificial tears might also be an effective option here.
Existing eye issues
If someone already has progressive myopia, which means short-sightedness as a result of a lengthened eyeball, or glaucoma, which damages our optic nerve, eye running can make matters worse. It might even result in worse eyesight than before. A glaucoma patient needs to be extra careful about running their eyes, as this could lead to permanent loss of vision and nerve damage.
If you rub your eyes a lot, your appearance will also suffer. The rubbing will cause eye blood vessels to break, which means that the eyes will look bloodshot. This act will also increase the tendency for developing wrinkles and dark circles around our eyes.
It’s tempting to keep rubbing our eyes for all kinds of reasons. However, this rubbing will only make things worse and result in a rubbing habit that grows more intense with time.
Rubbing the eyes isn’t really completely bad. It increases tear prediction, the secretion of oil from the meibomian glands, and helps to add moisture. However, rubbing too frequently or feeling that the eyes are overly dry and irritated isn’t really a normal act. In such cases, rubbing is discouraged and a doctor’s visit is imminent.