Burning Eyes


Burning eye causes

Burning eyes can be uncomfortable and painful to live with. There are a few possible causes, but it’s usually simple to diagnose and treat. As well as a burning sensation in the eyes, you may experience other symptoms like eye pain, watery eyes, itchy or stingy eyes, discharge or stinging eyelids.

If there are underlying conditions causing the problem, treatment may be more complex. We can help diagnose the problem and determine the best treatment option for you. If you have more severe symptoms including sudden vision loss you should see your optometrist immediately.

Dry eyes

If your eyes don’t produce enough tears, it can cause your eyes to burn. Dry, stinging eyes can look red, itch, feel like something is stuck in them and may water more than usual. You may also experience blurred vision and become more sensitive to light
than usual.

A foreign object in your eye

If you get something in your eye like sand, dust or even a scratch, you can damage your cornea (the clear top layer that protects the rest of your eye). The cornea is the most sensitive part of the eye. If it’s damaged, it can be painful, burn and cause eye redness and blurred vision.

A chemical eye burn

If you get an abrasive chemical like bleach or almost any fluid (including sprays) into your eye, it can damage your cornea and cause burning, redness and watering in your eyes.

Alkali burns are the most dangerous. These are often found in household products used to unblock toilets, drains and clean ovens. Acid burns are less severe but can still cause damage. Examples of acidic products include glass polish, vinegar, nail polish removers and car battery acid. Irritants can also cause pain, but don’t usually cause lasting damage to your eye. Most household detergents are classed as irritants.

If a chemical does splash into your eye, it’s important to flush them out with clean, lukewarm water, or using a saline solution for 15-20 minutes. Depending on the fluid and damage, you may need emergency medical treatment.

Airborne irritants and eye allergies

Burning eyes can also be caused by an allergic reaction from smoke, dust, pollen, mould spores, perfumes, pet dander, and foods. Other symptoms could be redness, tearing and itching in your eyes.


Ultraviolet light from sunlight, sun beds, welding equipment and lasers can cause a kind of ‘sunburn’ of the eye (photokeratitis).⁴ In addition to burning eyes, you may experience a gritty feeling in your eyes, and light sensitivity.


Managing & Treating Burning Eyes

The treatment for burning eyes will depend on the cause. In a lot of cases, you can treat burning eyes with simple home remedies and over-the-counter treatments. These can help with the dryness of burning eyes:

  • A warm eye compress for five minutes can help soothe dry, sore eyes
  • Artificial tears can help keep your eyes moist, protecting them from
    injury or infection
  • Over-the-counter treatments like medicated eyelid washes, ointments
    or eye drops can help clear up and prevent infections

For some cases you may need prescription treatments:

  • Antibiotics might be necessary in some serious cases
  • Medications and prescription eye drops or ointments
    can help with allergy symptoms

If your symptoms don’t clear up or they get worse, it’s important to visit
us for a check-up. If you notice any sudden changes in your vision along with eye pain, you should contact your doctor immediately.