Burning Eyes

Information on common eye irritations, such as red, stinging or burning eyes.

Select a Topic

  1. What are Burning Eyes?
  2. What Causes Burning Eyes?
  3. Diagnosing Burning Eyes
  4. Help for Burning Eyes
  5. More Information on Burning Eyes

What are Burning Eyes?

Burning is one of the most common problems affecting the eyes. You may experience a burning sensation, itchiness, redness, grittiness, irritation or the feeling that something is embedded in your eye. Some people often complain that when they experience a stinging sensation in their eyes, their vision becomes blurred, they are more sensitive to light and they have reading difficulties.

What Causes Burning Eyes?

Burning eyes develop as a result of being exposed to dry air (indoor heating) and wind, seasonal allergies, smoking and airborne pollutants such as dust can cause the eyes to sting and burn.

In addition, eye make-up, driving at night, poor eye protection in hazardous work environments, aging, and menopause, not removing your contact lenses at night or changing them regularly as well as sitting in front of a computer screen can contribute to burning eyes. Eye strain, styes, eye irritation, and pink eye may also be contributing factors to sore, burning eyes.

Diagnosing Burning Eyes

When the eyes sting or feel irritated and scratchy, it may often be a sign of eye disorders such as dry eye syndrome (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), conjunctivitis (pink eye) or blepharitis. If your eyes begin to sting, rinse or splash water or apply a cold pack onto them.

It is very important to take precautionary measures if your eyes are prone to stinging – avoid pollutants, use a humidifier if your environment is very dry and make sure that you wash your hands often when handling your contact lenses.

Help for Burning Eyes

Consult with your ophthalmologist if the sore, stinging sensation in your eyes persists. After a thorough eye examination, your ophthalmologist will recommend medications based on the underlying cause and these may include antibiotic eye drops or ointment, saline rinses, artificial tears or antihistamines.

More Information on Burning Eyes

There are a number of things that you can do to prevent and
manage burning eyes and these include:
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently when handling your contact lenses and eyes to avoid them becoming irritated
  • Blink your eyes frequently to keep them moist or to remove particles that may get trapped in them
  • Ensure that you change your contact lenses regularly and do not allow them to expire
  • Use artificial tears or saline rinses to provide relief for irritated eyes
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from airborne pollutants
  • Make sure that you get sufficient sleep every night – lack of sleep can also cause eyes to sting
  • Apply cold compresses such as a moist facecloth or bag of frozen peas on the eyes to reduce swelling and itching
  • Give your eyes a break throughout the day, especially if you work in front of a computer for long hours
  • Avoid using air conditioners as they have a drying effect on your eyes even while you are sleeping
  • If you work in a hazardous work environment, protect your eyes by wearing eye glasses, goggles, face shield or welding helmet
  • Make sure that you apply make-up properly and avoid using glitter, lash-building mascara and liquid pencils on the eyes until the irritation has cleared
  • Place slices of cucumber on tired, irritated eyes to rejuvenate them
  • Stop smoking
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