You know that gritty feeling in the eye when it feels like something’s in it or it just feels rough and scratchy? It’s not just your imagination, there are some sound medical reasons behind this feeling. If you have gritty eyes, contact Dry Eye Center at EYEcenter Optometric and we’ll get you back to more comfortable vision.
What Causes Gritty Eyes?
Gritty eyes can result from a number of eye conditions and diseases, such as allergies, Dry Eye Syndrome, Blepharitis, and sunburned eyes.
One of the most common causes of gritty eyes is a condition called Dry Eye Syndrome. As a person ages, the eye ducts which naturally produce tears, begin to slow down this natural tear production. A lack of tears causes the eyes to become dry, itchy, and uncomfortable.
Another symptom of dry eyes is grittiness. Many of our patients describe grittiness as a feeling that there’s a foreign substance in your eye. Others explain it as if there’s a tiny fleck of sand in the eye, resulting in a scratchy, rough sensation. Either way, it’s an uncomfortable experience. It can also cause some vision difficulties, such as blurry vision, inflammation, or frequent infections.
Blepharitis is a condition caused by a skin disorder or a bacterial infection. A patient with Blepharitis typically experiences inflamed eyelids, resulting in red and itchy eyes, as well as a general irritation of the eye area. Grittiness of the eye is also a symptom of this condition.
Did you know that your eyes can get a sunburn? While we usually think of a sunburn as reddened skin that hurts and then starts to peel during the healing process, your eyes can also be affected by sun rays.
When you are over-exposed to UV radiation, the cornea at the front of the eye can develop a sunburn. The first sign of sunburned eyes is when the sclera, the white part of the eye, appears bloodshot. You may notice a sudden sensitivity to light and feel a gritty sensation in your eyes. Soreness and blurry vision can also occur from sunburned eyes.
Although not a direct cause of gritty eyes, seasonal allergies can trigger Dry Eye, a cause of grittiness. For those with sensitivities to allergens such as pollen, dust, pet dander, or mold, allergic reactions can cause allergic conjunctivitis. This often results in red, watery, itchy and swollen eyes, symptoms which also occur in patients with dry eyes.
How To Treat Gritty Eyes
The key to treating gritty eyes is first understanding the cause.
For dry eyes, Dr. Fuerst or Dr. Gittins may recommend using artificial tears, which can lubricate the eyes to relieve the gritty, itchy feeling. Prescription eye drops may work for you, since they increase the eye’s natural tear production. In some cases, the doctor may prescribe steroids for more immediate short-term relief of your symptoms.
If your gritty eye sensation is from Blepharitis, a simple way to alleviate the uncomfortable feeling is to keep your eyelids consistently clean. Use a warm compress to soften the eyelids and gently wash away any eye crust formations. The doctor often suggests using a light cleanser such as baby soap to clean the area lightly, but effectively.
In case of a bacterial infection, the eye doctor may give you a prescription for antibiotic drops or ointments, or in more severe cases, steroid drops.
For sunburned eyes, eye drops can often give you a relief by moisturizing the eye and soothing the burn with a lubricating formula. In some cases, anti-inflammatory drops may be prescribed. The gritty feeling from the sunburn often fades on its own in a matter of a few days. If you find that the grittiness and discomfort last more than 2 days, contact Dry Eye Center at EYEcenter Optometric immediately.
If you experience gritty eyes and have difficulty alleviating the discomfort, or if you have any questions about this condition, speak to us. Dr. Fuerst or Dr. Gittins can schedule a consultation and discuss the specifics of your case. Let us help you enjoy long-term clear and pain-free vision.