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Why Are My Eyes Dry and Itchy?

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A man sitting in front of a laptop closing his eyes and holding his right hand to his face as he holds his glasses in his left hand.

Are you experiencing the uncomfortable sensation of dry, itchy eyes that just won’t go away? It can be an incredibly frustrating and unpleasant experience, leaving you searching for answers. 

You may find yourself questioning if it’s allergy season, or if you’ve contracted pink eye and if you’re now contagious. With so many possible reasons for these symptoms, it can be challenging to know what to do next. 

Understanding your symptoms and taking note of them is the first step toward relief. Dryness and irritation are common symptoms of dry eye, while itchiness can be a sign of allergies or infection. Your eye doctor can help you get to the bottom of your symptoms and create a treatment plan for lasting relief.

What Can Cause Dry & Itchy Eyes?

Ocular pruritus, generally known as itchy eyes, is a common condition. Allergies, as well as eye infections, can cause this condition. Your eyes and eyelids may become puffy and itchy, including around the base of the eyelashes.

Allergic conjunctivitis, sometimes called pink eye or red eye, is the medical term for when an allergy causes the eyes to become red. Other symptoms that can accompany pink eye are a runny nose, sneezing, and a scratchy throat. 

You can also get itchy eyes from:

  • An item or substance in your eye
  • Eyelid inflammation, known as blepharitis
  • An infection brought on by wearing contact lenses
  • An adverse drug reaction to medications like birth control, antihistamines, pain relievers, or antidepressants

Dry Eye Syndrome 

Dry eye syndrome is when your eyes don’t generate enough tears to keep the eyes hydrated and comfortable. 

When you are suffering from dry eye, you might notice:

  • Your eyes feel like they are burning 
  • The sensation that something is in your eyes
  • Excessive redness, irritation, or watering of the eyes
  • Even after resting or a night’s sleep, your eyes still feel worn out

While occasional dry eyes are common, if you notice persistent dry eyes, the condition may not improve without treatment. Fortunately, there are a variety of effective dry eye treatments available.


Allergies arise when the immune system overreacts to an environmental trigger. Usually, your eyes will react by itching or burning, there may be a clear, watery discharge, or they become dry and red. Eye allergies may bring about anything from minor irritation-causing redness to vision-impairing inflammation. 

Eye allergies can often be relieved through artificial tears, decongestant eye drops, or antihistamines. 

Eye Infections

Infections of the eye can have a variety of causes, however, common symptoms of an eye infection are itching in one or both eyes, feeling as though there is something in the eye, copious tears or no tears, and the whites of the eyes looking pink or red.

The interior of the eyelid and the eye whites are protected by a thin tissue called conjunctiva. An infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva is known as conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye. 

Viral and bacterial pink eye are two of the most common forms, however irritants and allergies can also lead to pink eye.

A young woman drinking a glass of water and closing her eyes.

What to Do About Dry & Itchy Eyes

A few things can be done about dry and itchy eyes on your own before reaching out to an eye doctor, though getting an eye exam is the safest and most effective relief. 

Remedies for Dry & Itchy Eyes

Keeping hydrated internally and externally by drinking lots of water and using a humidifier can help manage and relieve symptoms. 

Consuming omega-3 fatty acids may also help alleviate dry and irritated eyes, especially if the cause behind the discomfort is dry eye syndrome. Omega-3s serve an important role in the structure of our eyes. Not only can they aid in our early growth, but research suggests that a consistent, healthy diet of these fats can help avoid visual disorders, including dry eye. 

Eye drops are another source of relief from dry and itchy eyes. Eye drops can alleviate the itching, redness, and dryness caused by allergies or dry eye syndrome. Although these drops provide immediate relief, they may require multiple applications per day.

When to See the Eye Doctor

While mild eye irritation is a common experience, it can also be a sign of a more serious condition. If your dry and itchy eyes are accompanied by the following, visit a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Partial or total loss of vision
  • Unexpected floaters or flashes
  • Fuzzy patches in your range of vision
  • Severe eye aches
  • Abrupt dizziness or headaches
  • Sudden occurrence of the eye or surrounding skin being red

These symptoms could indicate an emergency and may require immediate attention. 

Trusted Relief for Dry, Irritated, & Itchy Eyes

Only so much can be done on your own when you have eye discomfort, especially if the symptoms get in the way of your day-to-day or cause vision impairment or pain. 

Our experienced team at Foothill Optometric Group can determine the cause of your symptoms and help you find relief that lasts. Book an eye exam today to find out the cause behind your dry and itchy eyes and get your comfort back.

Written by Total Vision

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