Burning eyes can cause a stinging, gritty sensation. The white of your eye may appear red or pink, and other symptoms may accompany the burning, such as itching, puffiness, and discharge.
While different products can calm stinging, such as prescription and over-the-counter lubricating eye drops, you might want to try one of these natural home remedies first.
Read on to learn how products in your medicine cabinet or kitchen can stop the burn.
Burning or stinging eyes can make it difficult to read, see, or even open your eyes.
For fast relief consider these natural remedies at home:
- Rinse your eyelids with lukewarm water. Rinsing can remove allergens and irritants from your eye, reducing inflammation and dryness.
- Soak a cloth in warm water, and then apply the warm compress over closed eyes for a few minutes several times a day.
- Mix a small amount of baby shampoo with warm water. Dip a cotton swab into the water, and then use it to clean the base of your eyelashes. This method unclogs oil glands and minimizes inflammation.
- Drink more water to increase eye moisture and reduce dryness. Dry eyes can trigger stinging, burning, and irritation.
- Step away from the computer and give your eyes a break. Staring at a bright computer screen for hours may contribute to irritation and burning.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun and wind.
- Eat more omega-3 fatty acids to alleviate dry eyes and burning. Good sources of omega-3 include salmon, tuna, anchovies, and sardines. You can also receive omega-3s from flaxseeds if you’re a vegan or vegetarian. Talk to a doctor to see if supplements are right for you.
- Run a humidifier to increase air moisture and relieve dry eyes.
- Apply cucumber slices over the affected eye to reduce inflammation, swelling, puffiness, and burning.
Understanding the underlying cause may prevent future problems. Eye conditions that can cause burning or stinging include:
Blepharitis causes inflammation of the eyelids. A clogged oil gland at the base of your eyelashes can trigger this condition. Other accompanying symptoms include watery eyes, itchy eyelids, flaking around the eyes, sensitivity to light, and you may lose your eyelashes.
Blepharitis isn’t contagious, but it can become a chronic condition.
Poor lubrication contributes to dry eyes. This not only causes burning, but also eye redness, sensitivity to light, mucus around the eyes, and eye fatigue. Depending on the severity, dry eyes can make it uncomfortable to wear contact lenses.
Different factors can trigger dry eyes. These include wind and smoke exposure, allergies, and working at a computer. You may also develop dry eyes if you have certain conditions like arthritis, or if you take an antihistamine, a decongestant, or an antidepressant.
Eye allergies that can trigger burning eyes include pollen, dander, smoke, and dust. In addition to eye discomfort, you may experience other allergy symptoms. These include sneezing, a runny nose, watery eyes, coughing, and a sore throat.
Snow blindness (photokeratitis)
Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause a sunburn on your eyes. This can lead to eye burning, redness, sensitivity to light, headaches, blurry vision, and temporary vision loss.
This condition causes inflammation around the eyes, along with eye burning, itching, and redness. A blocked eyelid gland or eyelash mites can bring on this condition. Ocular rosacea can occur in people who have the skin condition rosacea, as well as those who don’t have this condition.
Pterygium (surfer’s eye)
With pterygium, a lump develops on the eyeball. Sometimes, it can invade the cornea and interfere with vision. Although a benign growth, surfer’s eye can cause a variety of symptoms from burning eyes to the sensation of a foreign object in the eyes. A doctor can surgically remove the growth, but it may grow back.
Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
This refers to inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin layer of clear tissue covering the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis is a contagious condition caused by a viral or bacterial infection. You can also get pink eye from an allergic reaction to chemicals, pollen, and smoke.
If your eyes burn after staring at a bright computer screen, you could have eye strain. Other symptoms include double vision, watery eyes, dry eyes, and sensitivity to light. Eye strain can also develop after driving long distances, and after exposure to dry air.
Burning eyes may improve with home remedies and a few simple adjustments. If symptoms worsen or continue, see an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. You should also see a doctor if other symptoms appear with burning eyes. These include:
- eye floaters
- double vision
- blurry vision
- eye discharge
Be prepared to answer questions about your medical history and other symptoms. You’ll also undergo a comprehensive eye examination to check for physical symptoms that indicate an eye condition.
A doctor may use a bright light and a magnification tool to examine your eye tissue and the inner structure of your eye.
You may also complete a visual acuity test to check for loss of vision. And if you have discharge or crusting around your eyes, your doctor may take a fluid sample to check for bacteria, fungi, or allergens.
A doctor can also use the Schirmer’s test to evaluate tear production. Low tear volume can cause burning and stinging.
Burning eyes can be uncomfortable, but plenty of natural remedies can provide fast relief and calm the sting. Depending on the severity of burning, however, you may need medicated eye drops or a prescription from a doctor.
Don’t ignore eye symptoms that don’t improve. What you believe to be a minor annoyance could be a more serious eye condition.