If you people think rubbing your eyes is good then you are absolutely wrong without any doubt. Yes, we loved to rub our eyes because it provides us relief. Temporarily, we can feel relief but it increases the risks of damaging our eyes. Rubbing eyes gently and carefully is fine. The problem is when you do it much and excessively. 

People with itchy eyes, dry eyes, foreign body in an eye and even those people who work in computer or laptop screens are found involved in rubbing their eyes frequently. It might be developed as a habit. Our eyes need to be hydrated, then the act of rubbing stimulates the flow of tears which contributes to lubricating eyes and feels good. 

Why do we often rub our Eyes? 

Sometimes, gentle rubbing can also be beneficial because it can stimulate the vagus nerve, which helps to slow down the heart rate and relieves stress. 

Meibomian glands are present along the edge of eyelids. These glands secrete oil which is one of the layers of tear film which provides moisture and prevents tears from evaporating. While we rub our eyes, more tears are released which makes our eyes feel good so we often rub our eyes. 

What causes you to rub your eyes? 

Various factors which influence you to rub your eyes are given below. 

Eye Infection 

 Conjunctivitis or pink eye is the most common condition that makes eyes itchy and we often rub. Mostly allergic conjunctivitis makes eye itchy. 

When you touch your eyes with hands containing germs then they may likely get transmitted to your eyes. 

Allergies 

People who have allergies got itchy eyes, causing them to rub frequently. Various symptoms that go along with allergies are watery eyes, stuffy nose or sneezing.

Some may have seasonal  allergies as well as others can be allergic to certain medications or even with some foods. 

Eye strain

It is caused when your eyes are tired which will cause itching or burning sensation. 

Dry Eyes 

Dry eyes are caused if your eyes didn’t produce enough required amounts of tears which will make your eyes itch. 

Sinusitis or common cold can also make your eyes itchy. 

Contact lenses or foreign bodies stuck in eyes can also make eyes itchy. 

What happens when you rub your eyes? 

Excessively rubbing your eyes can potentially do harm which you can’t even think of. I listed various consequences of rubbing eyes below. Let’s have a look. 

Dark Circles 

Rubbing Eyes causes tiny blood vessels that are present under the skin around your eyes to break down and that blood eventually flows to the surrounding tissues giving rise to dark circles around the eyes. 

This can be a matter of cosmetic concerns and once dark circles appear, it’s quite difficult to get rid of them. 

Increased chance of infection 

Mostly, we use our hands for different purposes. So there is no doubt that our hands carry germs. When you touch your eyes knowingly or unknowingly with contaminated hands, then those germs like staphylococcus, streptococcus, E-coli, etc are likely to transmit to your eyes which can cause possible eye infection such as conjunctivitis

So make sure that you cleaned your hands with soap and water properly or apply some other preventive techniques if you are urged to touch your eyes. 

Released histamines 

If you have any allergies  or eye itching, rubbing your eyes can release more histamines in an affected eye which will further increase itching and irritation. 

Keratoconus or thinned cornea 

Various studies have shown that consistent eye rubbing over an extended period of time can lead to thinning of cornea and serious eye condition called keratoconus which causes distorted vision. 

Once diagnosed, initial correction can be made by special contact lenses (RGPs), but in severe cases it can’t be corrected by glasses or even Contact lenses and may require Corneal Graft. So it might be the best idea to avoid rubbing as prevention is better than cure. 

Scratched Cornea 

If you feel like something is stuck in your eyes even your eyelashes. You will attempt to remove it by rubbing your eyes which may end up with possible scratch or abrasion in your cornea. 

In case if you are lucky enough then there will be certain redness or irritations but sometimes it can lead to complicated infection and scars which can lead to permanent vision issues. So look before you leap. 

Risk of worsening pre-existing issues 

Rubbing eyes seems to be dangerous for those people who are having glaucoma because the increased pressure caused by rubbing can lead to nerve damage and may lead to permanent vision loss. 

Similarly, if you are a victim of progressive myopia, you may not be able to see distant objects clearly and you will possibly worsen your eyesight with excessive rubbing. 

Furthermore, Other potential consequences such as laxity of the eyelids, hyphema(collection of blood in anterior chamber), Retinal Detachment as well as lens dislocation may also be there if you excessively rub your eyes. If you have punctal plugs inserted then rubbing eyes may seem to be dangerous. 

Some tips to stop Rubbing Eyes 

The best tips can be a prevention. To help you to achieve clear and healthy vision, some tips are provided below. Rubbing is not something recommended by eye care professionals. You should be more conscious about the consequences of excessive rubbing that can happen. Stop yourself when you think of touching your eyes. 

  • Make sure to wash your hands more frequently. Because if you knowingly or unknowingly touch your eyes, at least the chance of eye infection can be reduced.  
  • Whenever you feel itchy eyes or something gets stuck in your eyes, then instead of rubbing you should try flushing it out with sterile saline solution or artificial tears. 
  • One of the best and important ways to avoid touching eyes is to keep eyes hydrated. Artificial eye drops can be kept over the counter and stay lubricated. 
  • If you are having eye allergies, strictly avoid eye makeup.
  • If you are a computer user, spend lots of time on digital devices. Then take regular breaks, apply the 20-20-20 rule. You can also use a blue cut lens to minimize the dry eyes risk caused due to digital devices.
  • If your eyes itch, swollen or red; place a cold compression over your eyes. You can use clean soft cloth dipped at clean, cool tap water. 

If condition gets worst, visit nearby eye hospital as soon as possible to rule out diagnosis.

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