Is It Bad To Rub My Eyes?

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Do you find yourself rubbing your eyes when they feel strained or itchy?

When our eyes are irritated, our first instinct is often to rub them for relief. It may seem harmless, but that quick relief may come at a serious cost to your vision.

What urges us to rub our eyes?

It’s common to rub our eyes when they feel irritated—from eye-strain, dryness, or particles like dust, dirt, and allergens. Gently rubbing our eyes aids in the secretion of tears, helping lubricate eyes.

Surprisingly, rubbing our eyes can also help relieve stress. Lightly applying pressure to the eyeball can stimulate the vagus nerve, which slows down your heart rate and relieves stress by triggering the oculocardiac reflex.

Although a gentle ocular massage might feel good on occasion, rubbing our eyes can often do more harm than good. Here’s Why:

Hands transfer bacteria to your eyes.

We touch many different surfaces throughout the day. From shaking hands at work, to washing the dishes, to going to the bathroom, our hands are introduced to millions of bacteria. If we touch our eyes before washing our hands, we can transfer all that bacteria to our eyes and increase the risk of infection.

If you rub your eyes for allergy relief, you will often it worse! Allergens can get stuck in your eyelashes and then transferred to the eye’s surface when rubbed.

Rubbing may create dark circles around your eyes.

As we age, the skin and tissue surrounding our eyes become more fragile. Rubbing our eyes can cause tiny blood vessels beneath the skin’s surface to break. This results in dark circles, swelling, and may even contribute to premature crow’s feet and drooping eyelids.

Rubbing can multiply the pressure in your eyes.

Even the lightest rubbing can double the pressure in your eyes. Rubbing your eyes aggressively can increase pressure by as much as 20 times in your eye. In most cases, the pressure will return to normal after rubbing, but some people have specific eye conditions that increase the risk of seriously harming their vision. People with progressive myopia, a common vision problem, can find that excessive rubbing makes their vision worse. In severe cases, some people’s retina can detach from the back of the eye due to the high pressure.

The front of the eye can be put at risk also. When the pressure is combined with the rubbing motion of the hand, the cornea can get damaged. This can cause a corneal tear or weaken the cornea and cause it to become deformed.

We Can Help You Achieve Clear, Healthy Vision

It can be very tempting to rub your eyes when they are irritated. It’s always a good idea to have eye drops around for flare-ups so you aren’t forced to rub them for relief.  We are passionate about helping our patients maintain healthy eyes and are here for any questions or concerns you have. Give us a call!

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