Anyone suffering from burning eyes knows what a nuisance it can be. Besides the fact that it may be downright painful at times, it can also spillover into a number of activities as well. Depending on the degree of burning sensation, you may not be able to see adequately to drive, work or read. Getting to the bottom of the problem is always important, but more so if those burning eyes interfere with your activities. Most often the causes of burning eyes are temporary and easily treated. However, other times burning eyes are symptomatic of some underlying optical illness which needs to be diagnosed and treated by an ophthalmologist. If the burning is acute, meaning a sudden onset, and brief in duration, chances are that causes environmental rather than systemic. In any case, burning eyes are no fun and need to be dealt with.
Common Causes of Burning Eyes
Most of the time burning eyes are symptomatic of eyestrain, irritants or perhaps conjunctivitis. Anyone who stares at words on the page or a computer screen for any length of time is bound to experience periods of burning eyes, perhaps accompanied by headaches. As well, those who drive on the highway for long periods of time may also be subject to burning eyes that are dry and simply tired of staring in the distance for hours on end. Sometimes just a small particle or a flying gnat can get in your eyes feeling like a brick is lodged under the eyelid. Some common causes of burning eyes also include:
- Prolonged exposure to the sun
- Glare from snow or water
- Irritation from exposure to chemicals such as soaps, makeup and shampoos
- Trauma to the eye
- Contact lenses
As a matter of fact, being overtired can cause burning eyes as well. Your eyes are extremely delicate and highly sensitive so it doesn’t take much to irritate them. From ill fitting contact lenses to exposure to sun and other elemental irritants, burning eyes are a common problem.
Medical Conditions Which Result in Burning Eyes
School age children are highly susceptible to conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as pink eye. While common irritants can easily be treated with OTC eyedrops, conjunctivitis is another matter altogether. It is highly contagious and will quickly spread from child to child. Not only will you experience extreme burning but your vision will probably be blurred as well. If you notice that your eyes, or your child’s eyes, are extremely bloodshot accompanied by burning, you should make an appointment with your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Conjunctivitis is treated with prescription medications. There are other medical conditions which result in burning eyes as well. Some of those include:
- Opthalmia neonatorum
- Corneal ulcer
- Sjogren’s syndrome
The key is to recognize when problem is ongoing and isn’t easily relieved with eyedrops or a good night’s sleep. If you are prone to chronic burning eyes you should see your doctor as soon as possible. While many times it is something easily correctable other times burning eyes may be symptomatic of some more serious underlying illness or condition. In extreme cases surgery may even be required.
Even small irritations can present big problems if they are not treated correctly. Eye infections can result as well as permanent scarring to the cornea. Unless you have been diagnosed with a specific allergy which causes periodic irritation and burning, or are subject to irritations caused by contact lenses, it is always in your best interest to speak with an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Not only can burning eyes interfere with your daily activities but they can be indicative of some more serious condition. The sooner you treat the ultimate causes for burning eyes the easier it will be to protect your vision.