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Causes of Eye Itchiness

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Dr. Marc Weinstein

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Itchy eyes can really ruin your day– but it doesn’t have to! It can come on seemingly at a random moment and usually is accompanied by watering eyes and redness, too. But by knowing what may be causing your eye itchiness, you can help relieve them sooner.

For the most part, that itchy feeling is just a mild inconvenience and has no effect on vision health. Almost everyone experiences itchy eyes from time to time and it can be easily taken care of at the comfort of your own home.

Read on for common causes of eye itchiness and how you can treat it.


If you notice a consistency to the environment you’re in when you get itchy eyes, you most likely are having an allergic reaction, especially if you are also sneezing, and feel congested as well.

For example, if your eyes itch and water every time you go to a friend’s house who has a cat, you probably are allergic to cats!

To help with allergies, take an antihistamine before entering an environment where allergens may be present. If you feel your allergies are severe, it’s best to see your doctor or an allergist who can pinpoint exactly what’s causing it and prescribe a customized treatment for you.


If it isn’t allergies, things like dust, smoke, or even ingredients in certain makeup, among other things, can cause irritation in the eyes for some people.

If you can identify what’s causing your itchy eyes, try to remove it from the area and remember to stay away from it. After that, you can rinse your eyes with water to wash the irritant away or apply a cool compress to help soothe the itchiness.

Dry Eyes

Whether it’s from the environment you’re in, medication, or a result of a health condition, dry eyes can make your eyes itch if they aren’t producing enough tears to lubricate them.

For dry eyes, artificial tear eye drops can provide instant relief. However, if you feel that dry eyes are a common occurrence, it’s best to speak with your eye doctor.

Contact Lenses

For contact wearers, a telltale sign that you’ve been wearing your contacts for too long is itchy eyes. Generally, you shouldn’t exceed wearing contacts for more than 12 hours a day, but it’s easy to go beyond that window, especially if you’re out and about.

A way to make sure you are giving your eyes a breather is to take your contacts out once you’re home for the day. If that’s not possible, contact rewetting drops are helpful until you’re able to take your contacts out.

Eye Infection

Unfortunately, there’s a chance your itchy eyes might signal that you have an eye infection. Most often caused by virus or bacteria, the most common eye infection is conjunctivitis aka pink eye. Alongside redness, discharge and tearing, a symptom is also itchy eyes.

Each eye infection is treated differently depending on what causes it, so it’s recommended to have a medical professional check it out. If it’s mild, you can gently wash the discharge from the eye with water and apply a warm or cool compress to help the discomfort as it can go away on its own. The best way to prevent eye infections is to always keep the eye area clean, wash your hands before touching your face or eyes, and to avoid any potential irritants.