5 Common Causes of Eye Irritation

December 10th, 2019
young tired woman rubbing eyes

There are many different causes of eye irritation. Learn how to treat the most common ones.

Eye irritation is a common problem that can result in anything from mild discomfort to serious vision problems. From allergies to dry eyes, there are many causes of this irritation. Here are five of the most common conditions that can cause pain or discomfort, their symptoms, and how to treat them. 


Eye irritation may occur if an allergen disturbs your eye’s membrane. Symptoms of allergies that affect the eyes include uncontrollable eye itchiness, watery eyes, swelling, red eyes, and even problems with vision. 

Treatment of irritation caused by allergies typically centers around symptom relief given that it is often impossible to avoid the allergens causing the reaction. Over-the-counter eye drops or pills that include antihistamines usually help. Putting a cool compress over your eyes can also relieve itching. If your symptoms are long-lasting or persistent, however, you will likely need allergy shots or prescription medication to alleviate them. 

Foreign Objects

Any foreign object — from a stray eyelash to a piece of glass — has the potential to irritate your eyes. Some of these objects might cause minimal discomfort that goes away once the object is removed. Others might cause damage to the eye, such as a corneal abrasion, in which case your eye will continue to be irritated even after the object is gone. 

The main solution when you have a foreign object in your eye is removing that object. Don’t touch your eye, but instead try flushing the object out with water. If you can’t get it out yourself, then you’ll need to go to a doctor or emergency room. Keep your eye closed as much as possible so as not to cause further irritation. Depending on the object and the degree of damage, you doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent an infection once the object is removed. 

Chronic Dry Eyes

Chronic dry eye occurs when the quality or quantity of tears your tear glands produce is insufficient to keep your eyes moist. In addition to your eyes feeling dry and irritated, they might also feel scratchy or like you have something in them. You may also experience a stinging sensation. 

Dry eye syndrome is incredibly common, especially given that you produce fewer tears as you age. Mild dry eye can be treated using over-the-counter solutions like artificial tears. More serious cases may require prescription dry eye medications. Lifestyle changes, like reducing screen time, can also alleviate symptoms. 


Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is an inflammation of the clear mucus membrane that covers the white part of your eye and coats the inside of your eyelid. It can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungi. Symptoms include your eye producing a sticky discharge and the white of the eye developing a red or pink color as a result of the blood vessels swelling. Your eye can also become uncomfortable and itchy. 

In many cases, conjunctivitis goes away on its own. Otherwise, treatments for the condition typically include prescription medications, but you can also alleviate itchiness with a cold compress.

A Stye

A stye is a painful lump located at the edge of your eye that causes irritation as well as pain and swelling. A stye often looks like a pimple and can be filled with pus. 

In most cases, styes disappear on their own. Until that happens, though, you can use a warm compress to help alleviate eye irritation. If you have persistent styes, you might require a more serious medical intervention either in the form of antibiotics or a surgical procedure that drains the pus.

Visit an Eyecare Specialist

Eye irritation is a common problem. In some cases, the irritation will go away on its own or it may be treated with over-the-counter solutions and home remedies. In other cases, you might require a more serious medical intervention. If you’re experiencing eye irritation, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment at Kleiman Evangelista. Our eyecare experts can help determine the cause of your symptoms and help you treat them.

Turn To The Top Eye Doctors In Texas

Check out one of our locations below for the best eye care near you: