Something in your eye
If you have something in your eye, this can cause irritation and itchiness. Anything from dust, sand, or grit in your eye or caught under your eyelid can cause itching. If this is the case, try and avoid rubbing your eyes. Although it is tempting, this can make the trapped particle scratch your eye or the inside of your eyelid. Blinking repeatedly can sometimes get it out, or you could try rinsing your eye with cooled boiled water, saline solution, or an eye wash.⁴
If a piece of dirt in your eye has caused an infection, you may need antibiotic eye drops.⁴
Itchy eyes could also be a symptom of an infection, such as a stye. This is a red, painful lump on your eyelid. Blepharitis is another infection in the eyelash follicles or oil ducts in your eyelid, which can cause red, itchy eyes.
Blepharitis and styes are usually caused by bacteria. Improving eyelid hygiene will help prevent this. Try to avoid touching your eyes, and wash them using a soft cloth, warm water, and a mild eyelid cleanser such as Optase.
If you have an eye infection which isn’t clearing up, you may need to see your doctor or optometrist. They can take a look and may prescribe you some antibiotic eye drops.
Treatment for itchy eyes
Most types of itchy eyes can be relieved using lubricating eye drops, also known as artificial tears. You can also soothe the itching using a cold compress. This could be a refreshing face cloth dampened with cold water. Cool gel eye masks also soothe and relieve itchy eyes.
If your itchy eyes are caused by an allergy, you could try to limit your exposure to the allergen if possible. For example, if you have hay fever, you could try to limit your time outdoors in spring and keep the windows and doors shut indoors. If you’re allergic to pet hair, you could try to avoid spending time with animals, and wash your hands immediately afterwards if you do touch an animal.
Allergies (including hay fever) can also be treated with medication, such as antihistamine medication nasal sprays, or eye drops. Eye drops for hay fever come in two kinds: sodium cromoglicate, which you apply in advance to help prevent hay fever, and antihistamine drops, which are more useful for treating the symptoms of hay fever after you’ve been exposed to pollen.
If you’re not sure what’s causing your itchy eyes, it’s a good idea to see your optometrist for an eye exam. We can tell you if it’s anything that might need medical treatment, such as blepharitis or a stye. We can also talk to you about the best options for treating the cause of your itchy eyes and for relieving the symptoms.