Burning eyes • Causes & what helps!

Burning eyes are very uncomfortable, but the symptom usually goes away on its own. Other symptoms such as itching, redness and tears often occur. There are many possible causes of burning eyes, from a short-term irritation to an allergic reaction to diseases.

Many people with hay fever are very familiar with the symptom of burning eyes. While they know what is behind their symptoms, others wonder why their eyes burn and itch. There are a variety of triggers for these everyday ailments, most of which are harmless. Nevertheless, there are cases in which those affected with burning eyes should better seek medical help.

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Itchy eyes: what are the causes?

Causes of burning eyes

From foreign bodies in the eye to allergic reactions to inflammation, there are many causes of burning eyes. Because with the unpleasant symptom, the body reacts quickly to external influences or diseases. Many of the reasons are of a harmless nature that can be easily eliminated. But there can also be serious causes behind burning eyes.

  • Overexertion and Fatigue: Those who are tired and haven’t had enough sleep usually suffer from burning eyes during the day. Even a long time in front of a screen strains the eyes – in addition, one blinks less often and the lacrimal gland produces too little tear fluid.

  • Cosmetics: If mascara, eyeliner or some color gets into the eye while tinting eyelashes, it often causes eye irritation and pain.

  • Hay fever and allergies: A common symptom of allergic reactions to pollen or allergens such as house dust is burning and itchy eyes. An allergic inflammation of the conjunctiva then occurs. In addition, there is often a cold and a sneezing itch.

  • Eye inflammation: Do your eyes burn, itch and are red? If your eyes are also sticky in the morning, conjunctivitis (conjunctivitis) triggered by bacteria or viruses can be behind it. Inflammation of the cornea (keratitis) or inflammation of the edge of the eyelid (blepharitis) are also possible.

  • eye herpes: On the face, herpes viruses can affect not only the lips but also the eyes.

  • cleavage spot (Pinguecula): In old age, a yellow spot can form on the white of the eye. The signs of aging are harmless and are caused by drying out of the conjunctiva.

  • Accident involving chemicals: In the household, it can easily happen that the eyes come into contact with irritants in cleaning products. Possible symptoms are burning eyes and severe pain. Anyone who works with chemicals and does not wear protective goggles is also at risk.

  • Foreign body: If, for example, dust, grains of sand or smoke get into the eye, it reacts with burning, pain or itching.

  • Contact lenses: If the lenses are worn for too long, not changed regularly or cleaned properly, the eyes can burn. Wrongly adjusted glasses can also cause burning, aching or itchy eyes. In addition, a crooked cornea can lead to blurred vision and eye strain, which can cause eye irritation.

  • Dry eyes: The eye is usually protected by a tear film. If this dries out, it can lead to burning and itchy eyes. There are many triggers for dry eyes, such as cigarette smoke, dry or cold air, high levels of ozone and drafts. Diseases are also possible: In the case of sicca syndrome (also Sjögren’s syndrome), the surface of the eye is not sufficiently wetted with the tear film. Other causes of dry eyes are, for example, hormonal changes, medication or allergies.

  • Side effects of medication: Some medicines can cause side effects in the eye, for example eye drops, eye ointments, medicines to lower blood pressure, pain relievers and substances related to vitamin A.

  • Cold: cold and Influenza viruses can also affect the eyes and cause burning eyes as a result. Infection with the corona virus is also a possible cause of burning and itchy eyes.

Various underlying diseases such as diabetes mellitus, thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism, rheumatism or skin diseases can also show burning eyes as a symptom.

Burning eyes: Accompanying symptoms often occur

Many people are not only plagued by burning eyes, but also other unpleasant symptoms. The most common accompanying complaints are:

Dry eyes: home remedies and tips

When should you seek medical help for eye burns?

In many cases, eyes will stop burning on their own. However, there are certain situations in which those affected should better seek medical advice. If the eyes burn repeatedly or the symptoms do not subside after a short time, it is better to see a doctor. This could be an indication of an eye disease or various infections.

If the burning eyes or the itching occurs with cold symptoms such as cough and fever, the general practitioner can be the appropriate first point of contact. It should be noted that if an infection with the coronavirus is suspected, a test should first be carried out or the procedure should be coordinated with the general practitioner by telephone.

An emergency, on the other hand, is an acute eye injury, for example an accident involving chemicals that causes the eyes to burn. Anyone who feels a burning sensation after using eye drops or ointments should discuss this with their doctor in order to rule out intolerance to certain ingredients in the medication or to switch to a different preparation if necessary.

Medical examinations if eyes burn

After the anamnesis interview, in which the ophthalmologist clarifies how severe the symptoms are and how long they have lasted, the physical examination follows. The focus is on the eye region, which is examined for redness, dry eyes, inflammation, swelling or visible injuries. In addition, the eye movements, the size of the pupil and the intraocular pressure are checked in the ophthalmological practice and the eye is examined for visible bleeding.

With an eye test, the eyesight is checked and whether eyestrain may be responsible for the burning sensation. The slit lamp enables a detailed examination of the individual layers of the eye. If hay fever or an allergic reaction is suspected, an allergy test such as the skin prick test will help. If there is a suspicion of an inflammation, a swab can be taken from the eye or the tear fluid can be examined in the laboratory.

Relieve burning eyes with home remedies?

In some cases, home remedies can provide quick relief for acute burning eyes. Cold compresses are a quick and easy remedy. To do this, soak a cotton cloth in cold water or cooled tea (chamomile, sage or calendula) and place it on the burning eyes. Compresses from the freezer can also help – to protect the eyes, do not put them directly on the skin, but wrap them in a thin cotton cloth. Alternatively, there are cooling eye masks that can even be placed directly on the closed eyes. Only leave the cold compresses on the eyes for as long as it feels comfortable.

If the eyes burn because shampoo, cosmetics, sunscreen or irritants such as cleaning agents have got into the eyes and cause irritation, they should be rinsed out with clear water. In the latter case, medical help should be called immediately.

If your eyes are overstrained from long periods of screen work, targeted relaxation exercises can help: for example, close your eyes for a few seconds, roll your eyes or look out the window for a few minutes. If contact lenses cause burning eyes, those affected should try a different product or wear glasses from time to time.

If dry air is causing the eyestrain, a humidifier can help. If a small container with water is placed on the heater, the liquid evaporates and increases the moisture content of the room air. Plants also have a positive effect on the room climate and help with dry and burning eyes.

Treatment of eye burns

If home remedies do not subside the burning eyes, medical help is required. Depending on the cause, there are various treatment options:

  • Over-the-counter eye drops help with dry, burning eyes, soothing them and moisturizing them with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and dexpanthenol. Ideally, the drops should not contain any fragrances or preservatives to avoid further irritating the eyes.

  • It can cause burning eyes from hay fever and other types of allergies prescription eye dropsthat contain antihistamines or mast cell stabilizers can be relieved. In addition, hyposensitization can help in the long term to alleviate the allergic reaction to the triggering substances.

  • With a reduced tear film tear substitutes in the form of drops or eye gel help against burning eyes. The artificial tears consist of purified water and a film-forming agent that covers the surface of the eye to protect it and provides moisture.

  • antibiotics treat a bacterial and antivirals a viral inflammation, for example conjunctivitis. The ophthalmologist will prescribe appropriate medication, usually in the form of drops or ointments.

  • Foreign objects are removed: You can usually wipe dust, eyelashes or sand out of your eyes yourself with a clean cloth starting from your nose. If larger particles lie on the surface, they can be extracted under a magnifying slit lamp microscope. Deeper foreign bodies usually have to be surgically removed.

  • Causes one underlying disease or eye disease, burning eyes, the symptom usually subsides if it is treated adequately.

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Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by www.lifeline.de.

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