When something itches, we instinctively rub or scratch it, right? However, when it comes to our eyes, we may want to think twice about rubbing them. Yes, even when we are tired, or when our eyes feel strained after a long day spent in front of a computer working. Although the act of rubbing our eyes for relief may seem harmless, that small sense of alleviation may come at a serious cost, as it can damage your vision.
Why Do We Rub Our Eyes?
We often rub our eyes to help relax the muscles surrounding them, which can become strained or fatigued, especially if we have been in front of some kind of electronic screen all day (e.g., smartphone, tablet, computer, television, etc.). In addition, we rub our eyes when they are dry or when external irritants, like dust or allergens come in contact with our corneas. The occasional ocular massage, when performed gently, has been known to offer some benefits such as:
- Helps to lubricate dry or itchy eyes.
- Can help to relieve stress by slowing your heart rate.
Despite these benefits, however, rubbing your eyes too frequently or too harshly can potentially damage your vision. This is something that we at Eye Physicians of North Houston would like to help you avoid. It is also worth mentioning that rubbing your eyes after encountering an irritant often only serves to exacerbate the problem rather than alleviate it. Below are a few other reasons why you should avoid rubbing your eyes.
Those Pesky Dark Circles
Rubbing your eyes can wreak havoc on your appearance! This simple act can cause tiny blood vessels beneath the skin’s surface to burst, resulting in dark circles, puffiness and even blood-shot eyes. Premature crow’s feet and droopy eyelids (dermatochalasis) have also been contributed to rubbing. Resisting the urge to rub your eyes can keep the skin around your eyes looking fresh and vibrant for years to come.
The Transfer of Bacteria
We use our hands for a variety of tasks in both public and private settings throughout the day. From picking up our daily cup of Joe to cleaning up around the house, our hands are introduced to a variety of bacteria, which is easily transmissible. When we touch something, then touch our eyes without first washing our hands, we risk transferring that bacteria which can result in infections like conjunctivitis.
The Potential for Injury
Rubbing your eyes for relief is least effective and most dangerous when a foreign object is in your eye – this is a common reason for itchy or otherwise irritated eyes. You should always allow your eye’s natural defense mechanism (i.e. tears) take care of the problem. If that does not work, you can use artificial tear drops, which can be picked up at most any pharmacy without the need for a prescription.