When your eyes are weary and irritated, our initial action is to rub them to feel much better. Rubbing may look harmless, but did you know that minor relief may come at a price to your vision?

Why Rubbing Your Eyes Does More Harm Than Good?

Yes, rubbing your already irritated eyes can do more harm than good. The temporary relief that it provides is greatly dominated by its negative effects. Below are a number of those negative effects that you are advised from a optometrist in Calgary and brought about by rubbing your eyes:

  1. It can damage the cornea.

Irritating an already irritated cornea by rubbing your eyes can put sufficient force to change the cornea from its normal dome-like shape into a more conical shape. This is a condition called keratoconus.

It’s imperative to remember that people wearing contact lenses should avoid the urge to rub their eyes as they remove their lenses. After contacts removal, the eye is recovering from deprivation of oxygen and is at risk of corneal damage.  There are rare cases where rubbing can lead to tearing the cornea.

  1. It can cause “pink eye”.

The most common infection the eye can get from transferring germs from the fingers to the eye is called the “pink eye” or conjunctivitis. Viral conjunctivitis can spread like other viruses – through surfaces. If an individual has pink eye, it causes inflammation of the “white” part of the eye, which is the sclera and the inner eyelid surface. Conjunctivitis is itchy and so hard to resist.

It’s crucial not to touch the eye with the pink eye with your fingers, for doing so may pass the same germ into your other eye. Same with the common cold, the condition will normally be gone in 3 to 4 days.

  1. It can cause dark circles.

The blood vessels surrounding your eyes are extremely small and delicate and can break easily through rough contact. Regularly rubbing your eyes can lead to the creation of periorbital circles, which look like dark rings around or commonly under the eyes. The darkening results from small amounts of blood seeping from the periorbital vessels.  Periorbital circles may also be due to allergies, alcohol, illness, increased salt intake and long-term use of tobacco. Dark circles under the eyes are normally harmless; however, there are cases that such manifestation indicated liver disease or hypothyroidism.

As an alternative from rubbing your eyes, you may go for safer ways to relieve the itch in your eyes like:

  • Relieve eye irritation by applying cool towels or slices of cucumber into the eyelids.
  • Put eye drops in the affected eye, which are mild and can be applied many times.
  • For swollen or itchy eyes, over-the-counter medications for allergy can be helpful. Just make sure to follow the direction on the package.

Thanks to Dr Alex Wilson for his tips.