Our eyes are our windows to the world. They do so much more than simply provide visual information; they allow us to experience our environment, read, learn, and deeply connect with others.
But when your eyes are red, itchy, dry, watery, tinging, or painful, you might prefer a dark closet to the bright and amazing world around you.
Red, itchy eyes aren’t just uncomfortable - they can be a sign that your body is out of balance. Here we’ll look at the various causes of itchy eyes as well as when to look for help. Then, we’ll share some simple home remedies to soothe itching and dryness as well as some lifestyle habits that heal your eyes from within.
What Causes Itchy Eyes?
Itchy or irritated eyes are relatively common. Something as simple as dust can cause a whole day of irritation, while other causes may be more complex or elusive. Here are some of the most common reasons we experience dry or itchy eyes.
Common Causes of Itchy Eyes
- Dry eyes
- Seasonal allergies or hay fever
- Air pollution
- Infections (like conjunctivitis or blepharitis)
- Debris in the eye (like dust or pollen)
- Poor-fitting or old contact lenses
- Atopic dermatitis or eczema
- Allergy to makeup
- Eye strain or fatigue
Don’t Rub Itchy Eyes... Here’s Why
It’s natural to want to ease your itching eyes by rubbing them vigorously. Unfortunately, rubbing only makes it worse.
If your eyes are itchy due to allergies, rubbing them will only exacerbate the inflammation and trigger more itching and redness. If there is an infection present, rubbing will spread bacteria even further and can prevent the healing process.
A major reason to avoid rubbing your eyes is simply mechanical. Dirt, debris, dust, and hair near your eyes are abrasive. Rubbing can scratch these particles across your delicate eye tissue and damage, redness, and pain.
How to Heal Your Red, Itchy Eyes at Home
Thankfully, there are non-abrasive ways to calm itchy eyes and promote healing. Check out these easy home remedies and lifestyle tips to soothe sore eyes and encourage better eye health for the future.
1) Peppermint Tea
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, herbalists use peppermint to soothe hot, red, painful, itching eyes, especially when it’s caused by spring allergies or stress. And it’s no surprise why! Even a sniff of peppermint tea or essential oil reminds us how cooling and refreshing peppermint is. Drinking peppermint tea also helps your body fight inflammation and soothe irritated eyes from within.
2) Tea Bag Compress
After you’re done sipping your peppermint tea, why not make those tea bags into eye compresses? Place two steeped tea bags on a clean plate and chill in the refrigerator. When cool, gently place them over your eyes and rest for 10-15 minutes. Green tea and chamomile tea bags work well, too!
3) Cold Compress
If you don’t have teabags on hand, a simple cold compress does wonders. Wrap an ice pack, ice cubes, or a bag of frozen peas with a soft washcloth or cotton towel. Then, retreat to a comfortable place to rest. Place the compress over your closed eyelids and relax for several minutes as the itching gradually subsides. This is the perfect opportunity to tune into a podcast you love or listen to a guided meditation.
4) Cucumber Slices
Cucumber slices are the go-to home remedy for puffy, tired eyes. But did you know that cucumber can soothe red and itchy eyes, too? Cucumbers are naturally hydrating, cool, and soothing. They are also packed with antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation. Slice two quarter-inch-thick rounds to cover your eyes, sit back, and chill out!
Lifestyle Tips for Healthy Eyes
1) Keep Windows Closed and Invest in Air Filtration
Some of the most common causes of red, itchy eyes are pollen and other environmental allergens. When they float into your home through windows and air ducts, you end up exposed to allergens all day long.
If you struggle with itchy eyes and seasonal allergies, be sure to keep your windows closed and replace your HEPA filters regularly.
2) Limit Screen Time and Use Blue-Light Blockers
Another sneaky culprit behind dry, itchy eyes is excessive use of screens. Computer and phone use has skyrocketed over the past few decades and our poor eyes are crying out for some rest.
Try to limit your screen time as much as possible during the day to prevent eye strain. Take regular breaks (at least once per hour) to step away from the screen and either rest your eyes or gaze at something natural (like a favorite houseplant or out your window). An easy way to protect your eyes while on your devices is to wear screen readers or blue-light blockers. These glasses help to deflect excess blue light that causes eye strain, sleep trouble, and damages your retinas.
3) Stay Hydrated
Dehydration can seriously affect our eye health. Without enough water to stay moist, eyes become dry, irritated, and prone to redness and itching. By staying hydrated, you’ll protect the integrity of your eyes while flushing away debris, dust, and bacteria.
A great way to stay hydrated and boost your eye health at the same time is to add a splash of vitamin A-rich carrot juice to your water bottle.
4) Eat Foods for Eye Health
Beyond carrots, there are tons of healthy foods that nourish and protect your eyes. Focus on foods that are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, lutein, thiamine, zeaxanthin, and omega 3 fatty acids like these:
- Red bell pepper
- Citrus fruits
- Sweet potato
- Dark leafy greens
- Sunflower seeds
- Beans and legumes
5) Supplement with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Research shows that the cell membranes of the retina contain a high concentration of DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Along with protecting the retina, omega-3 fatty acids are also essential for fighting inflammation and oxidative damage that leads to eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy, vision loss, dry eye, and general aging.
Eating omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods like salmon, chia seed, and flaxseed is a great way to eat for eye health. But getting enough omega-3 in your diet can be hard—especially if you’re not a fan of fish. Instead, support your diet with an omega-3 supplement like Aceva’s Omega 3 Plus or Omega Longevity.
Omega 3 Plus ensures that you will benefit from the optimal level of omega-3 fatty acids daily, all in a mercury-free, easy-to-swallow, burp-free formula. Unlike other omega-3 products on the market, Omega 3 Plus contains an advanced triglyceride form that allows for 51% great absorption.
Omega Longevity is made from high-quality, molecularly-distilled fish oil that also contains a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin. Astaxanthin has been proven to support eye health, as well as brain health, skin health, immune health, cardiovascular health, and even athletic endurance and recovery.
When to Seek Help
Thankfully, most cases of red and itchy eyes are resolved quickly and easily by using our home remedies below. But sometimes it’s best to play it safe and consult a professional.
If your redness or itching doesn’t improve, you feel like something is stuck in your eye, you develop an eye infection, your vision changes, or you experience eye pain, make an appointment to see your eye doctor.
Nourish Your Eyes Naturally
No one deserves to suffer the nagging irritation of red, itchy eyes. So why suffer when you could soothe? Use these tips whenever you need to find natural relief for itching or irritated eyes. Then, restore your eye health from the root by eating well, staying hydrated, and taking Aceva’s Omega 3 Plus or Omega Longevity!