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Is It Bad To Rub Your Eyes?

Sep 15, 2020

lady in glasses rubbing her eyes

Sometimes, there feels like there nothing better than a big stretch and good old eye rub when you are feeling tired at your desk, off to bed, or waking up in the morning. But could something that feels so good be harming your eyes? Well, yes.

But, it’s just an eye rub, isn’t it?

 

The Dangers of rubbing your eyes

 

You could damage your eye structure

Your eyes are extremely complex, made up of several layers, gels, and vine-like structures to hold it all together and move exactly when your brain tells them to, without you even noticing.

With a lens and iris at the centre of each eye, pupil, a retina surround, and ciliary and aqueous bodies amongst other things, there is much to protect, which is the job of the Cornea and the whites of your eyes, or Sclera. You will have heard of collagen before and it is this that makes up the structure of the Cornea and Sclera, giving it an elastane effect and a stretchiness – when you press and rub your eyes inward, the collagen stretches with it and snaps back when you let go.

Your eyesight could become damaged

Ever rubbed your eyes and seen stars afterward or what looks like the inside of your eyes? These flashes of colour are called phosphenes and are caused by pressure on the eyeballs, affecting the blood flow, subsequently triggering retinal signals, in the same way, light does. The retina surrounds the back of the eye and constant or vigorous eye rubbing can cause damage such as a retinal tear or even detachment.

Eye rubbing can cause structural damage to the eye called keratoconus. This leaves the patient with structural abnormalities in the eye which causes poor vision and can lead to astigmatism, which you may have more commonly heard of. Severe astigmatism cannot be rectified by glasses or lenses and as a final solution can result in a corneal transplant.

 

Underlying eye conditions could worsen

A simple eye rub, albeit over time, can exasperate underlying conditions too, such as myopia and glaucoma. The sudden spike in ocular pressure that occurs when rubbing your eyes can impede blood flow to the back of the eye, which can cause more nerve damage and vision loss as a result.

Those that have had eye surgery such as cataract or LASIK procedures should be particularly mindful of eye rubbing. As the delicate areas around the eyes have already been compromised through surgery, it is key to find alternatives to alleviate the need to rub your eyes.

 

Risk of Infections and allergies

If you are lucky enough to have happy, healthy eyes, keep them that way by limiting the bacteria and opportunities for infection to get in. If you must touch your eyes, ensure your hands are clean, as you would do for putting contact lenses in. Our hands pick up a myriad of different bacteria and dirt throughout the day and so you should think twice before putting them anywhere near your eyes.

Allergy sufferers find it particularly hard, especially with hayfever where eye itchiness is so prevalent. Keep up with antihistamines, keep eyes moistened with drops, and take measures to keep away from high pollen areas where possible to reduce the need to touch your eyes.

 

What should you do when you want to rub your eyes?

We mostly rub our eyes due to tiredness, fatigue, eye strain, and/or allergies as just mentioned. There are tactics you can put in place to limit the need to eye rub, particularly if it is due to long periods of screen time [link constant screen time blog] with regular breaks, the 20-20-20, and blue-light-blocking lenses for example.

Sleep is another. We often believe we are achieving more or appear to be working harder if we are forgoing sleep to do so, however it is quite the opposite. Restful and plentiful sleep is imperative to eye care, managing stress, and health overall, meaning getting the amount of sleep you need is futureproofing your mind and body.

The best way to stop rubbing your eyes is by using refreshing eye drops that are made to keep your eyes hydrated and prevent itchiness. Washing your face with water can also help to comfort the eyes and reduce itchiness without rubbing your eyes – just ensure your hands are clean and you do not make direct contact with your eyes.

At Lensology, we are experts in eye care, supplying the highest quality lenses for our customers to suit all conditions and frames. Chat to our friendly, expert team today to see how we can help you to see better and care for your present, and future, eye health.

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