When you wake up in the morning, or just before bed when your eyes are oh, so tired, you may rub them. Many people rub their eyes for many different reasons. It could be fatigue from computer use that sends you over the edge, or allergies. The instinct to rub your eyes isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s an instinct!
In some ways, rubbing may seem to accomplish the intended outcome, to relieve dryness, itching, or discomfort. It does so by encouraging tear production to lubricate an irritated surface. You may not know it, but the gentle pressure placed on the eyes can even decrease stress by slowing your heart rate. This occurs through what is known as the oculocardiac reflex, stimulated by the vagus nerve.
All this good can’t be bad, can it?
It’s possible that eye-rubbing is doing harm, possibly more than you could imagine.
- Dark circles and bags can form from eye rubbing because the skin around the eyes is some of the thinnest on the body. The pull on delicate skin can lead to crow’s feet and other lines. If tiny blood vessels are broken or damaged, the skin around the eyes can become dark.
- Bacteria easily hops on board anytime you touch an object at home, at work, at the grocery store . . . you get the picture. Do you stop to wash your hands before touching your eyes? Probably not. When the urge strikes, it can be intense. Rubbing can transfer the bacteria that are on your hands into your eyes, or onto the skin around them, creating a risk for infection.
- Rubbing could also be making the problem worse, if the cause of irritation is allergies. It’s a little known fact that allergens may adhere to the eyelashes. When they do, rubbing only spreads them.
- Eye pressure increases momentarily when the eyes are rubbed. Depending on the amount of force applied, structures in the eye can be damaged. This includes everything from a corneal tear to a detached retina.
If your eyes are dry and irritated more often than not, professional care may help. Roholt Vision Institute has three offices to serve your needs. Contact us today.