Eye Rubbing is Really, Really Bad for Your Eyes

Got an eye itch? Are you feeling the urge to rub or scratch your eyes? Well, if so then there is a good chance that you are further damaging your eye and harming your vision. Most of us on a daily basis find ourselves rubbing our eyes throughout the day whether it be when we first wake up in the morning, or when our eyes feel irritated when exposed to pollutants in the air or even when something has gotten into our eyes. We are all guilty of this “negative” habit. Our mothers have constantly reminded us since we were little not to put our elbows on the tables or talk to strangers, but how many of our mothers have actually warned us not to rub our eyes? Sure we’ve been told not to rub our eyes if our hands are dirty but our optometrist will strongly advise us to avoid rubbing our eyes at all times in order to prevent infections, certain eye diseases, and even loss of vision. You may be wondering how simply rubbing one’s eyes could lead to such harmful effects but most, if not all, optometrists will warn their patients that constant eye rubbing is a serious threat to one’s vision. There are a number of potential problems that could eventually arise from constant eye rubbing. Many of us have at one time rubbed our eyes because they may feel dry, irritated, sore, itchy and blurry but we rarely think about the detrimental effects we may be causing our eyes. Every time we rub our eyes we fail to recognize that this action could cause a tearing of the capillaries in the eye and even worst, cause blood clots. A common belief that many regard as true is that rubbing your eyes is okay only when one has thoroughly washed their hands. However, this is a big misconception. Optometrists are constantly reminding their patients that washing one’s hands cannot fully protect one’s eye from bacteria, which could potentially get into one’s eye after eye rubbing. Furthermore, washing your hands does not simply mean you are resistant from any eye damage. On the other hand, washing your hands could mean you are less likely to get bacteria in your eye and thus less likely to get an infection. However, you must keep in mind there are other more serious effects that could ensue from long term eye rubbing.

Some of these serious risks that could result from eye rubbing include retinal detachment, development of keratoconus and cataracts, and even blindness. When we begin to notice that rubbing our eyes causes inflammation on our eyes and lids, we must take every precaution and see an eye doctor immediately in order to prevent further damage. In fact, people who rub their eyes frequently are much more prone to suffering from two very serious problems, one of which weakens the cornea (also known as keratoconus) and another that loosens the retina from the wall of the eye, known as retinal detachments. Rubbing the eyes weaken these tissues and, if frequently done, could potentially cause irreparable harm to your vision. In basic terms, what happens when we rub our eyes is that we push against the eyeball and cause pressure to build at the eye socket in which the optic nerves connect. Keep in mind that optic nerves are extremely fragile and delicate and with constant eye rubbing could detach the retina. Although we may feel immediate relief from eye rubbing, the long term effects it could have on our vision is detrimental. With that being said, is it really worth it to rub your eyes if it’s feeling itchy or dry? Rather optometrists suggest that you use a cool washcloth and lightly press on the eyes or simply squeeze your eyes shut for a few seconds. These suggestions aren’t only safer but will save your vision and health. So next time you may feel tempted to rub your eyes think twice before you do it.