Although it may appear harmless, rubbing your eyes can put you at risk for illness or worsen eye irritation.
Why does rubbing eyes feel so good
Rubbing eyes feels good because it increases tear production and lubrication, soothes dry eyes, and aids in removing dust and other irritants. Plus, when you massage your eyes, it stimulates the vagus nerve, which lowers your heart rate and relieves stress.
The temptation to rub your eyes when they are itchy and inflamed is real. But rubbing itchy eyes causes histamines to be released, exacerbating the itching and encouraging more vigorous rubbing.
Not all eye rubbing is detrimental. More tears are produced, which leads to the meibomian glands in your eyelids secreting essential oil into your eyes. The increased moisture prevents the evaporation of our tears which is healthiy for your eyes, especially when coupled with a diet of the right vitamins, nutrients, and supplements for eye health.
Dangers of rubbing too much
If rubbing your eyes increases tear production and can help flush out irritants from your eyes, then why is it bad to rub your eyeballs? While your natural response is probably to touch your eye to remove something stuck in your eye, you can do more harm than good as the object might tear the surface of your cornea.
In addition, keep in mind that your hands are covered in bacteria and germs. So, inserting a finger into your eyes before washing with soap and water might worsen an illness like conjunctivitis.
Individuals with specific pre-existing ocular diseases should avoid rubbing. Rubbing your eyes can make glaucoma or progressive myopia—short-sightedness brought on by a longer eyeball—including other conditions that harm the optic nerve—worse. Eye rubbing is especially harmful to glaucoma patients whose eyes already have elevated pressure. It may result in nerve damage and eventual blindness.
For people with eye conditions, frequent eye rubbing can weaken and thin the cornea, causing it to protrude forward and take on a more cone-like shape called keratoconus. This condition can result in blurry vision and ultimately necessitate the use of specialized contact lenses like scleral lenses or a corneal transplant.
Rubbing the eyes too much, or pressing on them, can cause retinal tearing or detachment. At the very least, it can lead to the tiny blood vessels around the eyes breaking, resulting in bloodshot eyes, dark circles, and wrinkles.
How to properly rub your eyes
It's a natural response to rub our eyes when fatigued or if they feel dry, but doing so will provide little comfort. In addition to keeping up with allergy medicine if you are prone to allergy issues, doctors advise taking a break from stress rather than rubbing your eyes to ease irritation. If you are experiencing eye strain, try exercises to improve your eye health. Undoubtedly, an eye care specialist should assess any persistent eye issues.
Can you rub your eyes with contacts?
A hard no. Rubbing your eyes while wearing contact lenses can harm the cornea, further impairing your eyesight. So, avoid touching your eyes with contacts to prevent any damage.
We do it, we rub, but try to make a mental note to stop and use our guidelines above before rubbing your eyes to keep them healthy and happy.