Do you ever wonder why rubbing your eyes feels so good? There is something undeniably soothing about the act, especially after a night’s sleep or a tiring day. The motion of pressing your eyeballs and tugging at your eyelids stimulate the secretion of tears, which lubricates dry and itchy eyes. The relief you get from the motion also stimulates the vagus nerve, which helps slow your heart rate and relieve stress.
As calming the benefits may be, did you know the risks associated with rubbing your eyes include permanent vision loss? Allow us to explain.
The Dangers of Rubbing Your Eyes
The occasional “knuckle rub” to an itching eye can feel incredibly relieving, but scratching them too often or too hard can put yourself at risk of:
- Getting an Eye Infection
You may be shocked by how much bacteria are on your hands. According to research from the University of Colorado at Boulder, on average, people carry 3,200 bacteria from 150 different species on their hands. Touching various items, then later rubbing your eyes, increases your risk of allergic reactions and infections. To prevent unwanted eye infections, the National Eye Institute recommends practicing proper hygiene by washing your hands before touching your eyes to insert contact lenses or apply makeup.
- Scratching Your Cornea
Making a habit out of rubbing your eyes can cause a corneal scratch, otherwise known as a corneal abrasion. Corneal abrasions can cause excruciating pain and discomfort. The ocular condition may take time to heal, assuming that your eyes do not contract an infection during the process. If corneal abrasion persists or is left untreated, it can even damage your vision permanently. Therefore, seek medical attention as soon as possible if you are experiencing symptoms such as blurry vision, eye twitching, redness, tearing, hypersensitivity to light, headaches, and occasionally, nausea.
- Damaging Your Vision
Increasing the pressure on your eyeball can lead to nerve damage and permanent vision loss. Rubbing your eyes can also lead to thinning corneas (keratoconus), which can cause poor vision and an eventual need for a corneal graft.
- Having Dark Under eye Circles
Rubbing your eyes not only damages your vision, but it can also wreak havoc on your appearance. Tugging at the muscles around your eyes causes tiny blood vessels to break, resulting in bloodshot eyes and dark circles that may start sagging over time.
How to Stop Rubbing Your Eyes
Some people rub their eyes in an attempt to relieve dryness, itchiness, and/or a foreign body sensation. If something is stuck in your eye, try flushing it out with sterile saline or artificial tears (also soothes dry eyes by hydrating them). If this method does not work, head straight to your eye doctor for immediate medical care.
Are You Looking for the Best Eye Doctors in Sun City, AZ?
Excessive eye rubbing, whether due to chronic dryness, itchiness, or habit, should be addressed to avoid unpleasant consequences. If you often feel a foreign body sensation in your eye or feel as if something is amiss with your vision, contact Arizona Retinal Specialists to get the proper eye care and maintenance you need. Call us today at 623-474-3937 (EYES). We are committed to providing unparalleled care while utilizing the latest technology in diagnostic and medical eye treatments.