Burning eyes or stinging eyes is one of the most common eye issues. Most people have experienced this at least once in their lifetime.
If you have been noticing that your eyes have been burning for a while, you should talk to your doctor about the condition. While it may not be serious, it’s in your best interest to address the issue.
Find out what causes you to feel like your eyeballs are on fire, and what you can do to treat the condition of burning eyes or eyes sting.
Why are My Eyes burning?
Burning eyes are a common result of having irritated and dry eyes. They may or may not turn your eyes red, but can intensify into a burning sensation accompanied by other symptoms such as watery eyes and pain in the eye. You may also experience irritation due to itching or eye discharge.
Burning eyes can come about for various reasons. Some are easy to treat, some are more complex.
Your stinging eyes can be related to changes in the weather, allergies, or a disease. It is also possible that the problem is genetic and you might have DES (dry eye syndrome). Dry eye syndrome is a lack of lubricant or tears in the eyes, which can cause discomfort.
Burning sensations in the eyes can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful, especially if they’re caused by something like eye infection and inflammation. Sometimes, this can be fixed with easy solutions that provide relief.
Before choosing the best treatment for your stinging or eyes, be sure to establish what’s causing them.
9 Causes for Stinging Eyes or Burning Eyes
Most of the time, a temporary burning sensation in the eyes is harmless. It will go away on its own and won’t be much of a bother. The issue can turn more worrying if the discomfort doesn’t diminish after a couple of days- that might signal it being something more serious where medical help is required.
Understanding the underlying cause help to effectively manage the issue of eye burn, and can prevent future problems. Burning and stinging eyes are often caused by the following eye conditions:
Dry eyes can be either temporary or permanent. The temporary, more common type of dry eyes can be caused by exposure to eye irritants, cold or flu medicines, and contact lens wear.
Medicine for the cold typically works by drying up fluids in order to prevent a runny nose for example. This may dry out the fluids in your eyes leading to dry eyes.
There are numerous remedies available to treat temporary eye dryness such as resting the eyes, using eye drops, and avoiding the irritant.
Permanent or chronic dry eyes can be a result of dry eye syndrome, which can happen due to poor quality tears or not producing enough tears.
Burning Eyes due to Allergy and Toxins
Pets, pollen, and dust can all lead to eye irritation and burning eyes which should go away once the allergens are out of your home environment. Makeup products also come in contact with your eyes leading to symptoms such as burning or dry eye.
Larger irritants like sand will scratch and damage delicate eyes, especially if you rub them too much or touch your eye too soon afterward. Make sure to get rid of the irritant as quickly as possible and to avoid touching or rubbing your eyes with it.
The large irritants that are often found in pesticides and household products may cause ulcers on the cornea. These corneal ulcers can get infected and cause your eyes to burn or feel irritated.
It is recommended to remove any irritant as soon as possible, if it’s too small, you can wash it away with clean water or saline solution.
Contacting chemicals into your eyes is a situation that needs immediate medical attention. Items like household cleaners, sunscreen, and petrol contain substances with irritants that can trigger long-term eye pain, burning eyes, and even blurry vision and vision loss.
The carbon fumes emitted from burning substances can cause your eyes to sting, but luckily there are ways to avoid that. If you do feel any pain, you will want to seek medical attention as the longer this goes on the riskier it is for your eyesight.
With allergies, it’s important to be careful because some can be related to conjunctivitis – a more serious type. The antibodies released by the body when you have this condition are usually the cause of burning eyes with lasting inflammation.
Contact Lens and Lens Solution
Contact lens wearers are experiencing dry eyes due to contact lens-related factors. The lens solution or the material of the contact lens can cause discomfort with a stinging sensation and burning sensation.
You might have noticed flaky, dandruff-like deposits at the base of the eyelashes at the margin of the eyelid, it is known as blepharitis. Along with eye redness and mild lid swelling, dry eyes may be a symptom of blepharitis. Another symptom that may arise is itchiness or burning in the affected area. It often results from bacteria collecting in the linings of the eyelids, and bases of the eyelashes.
Pterygium and Pinguecula
The pinguecula is a tiny growth on the conjunctiva. It’s often called the surfer’s eye and it usually starts as a small yellow spot on the eye towards your nose (nasal side).
If the Pinguecula continues to grow larger, it becomes a pterygium. Pterygia can cover about half of the cornea in some cases.
The growths are caused by your exposure to UV radiation. Protecting your eyes with sunglasses and goggles can easily stop them.
This is not a serious condition but will need treatment if it causes burning eyes or affects your vision. Lubricating eye drops are the most used solution to get relief from the burning or stinging sensation caused by pinguecula or pterygium. The advanced pterygium needs to be excised or removed with minor surgery.
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is a common inflammation in the conjunctiva, a transparent membrane lining the eyes and covering the white part of the eyeball.
In pink eyes, small blood vessels are inflamed, making them pink and more visible. Symptoms of conjunctivitis include red eyes, grittiness, burning sensation, with or without discharge, and watering.
Bacteria and viruses are triggers to infection and inflammation-causing conjunctivitis, but allergies can also have the same effect. In a newborn, an incompletely opened tear duct also causes pink eyes.
Conjunctivitis is easily contagious. If you notice dry, itchy, burning, or red eyes with discharge coming from one or both eyes and increased watering of your eyes that does not lessen within a day then you should make an appointment at your doctor’s place.
You will require antibiotics or other treatments to reduce the symptoms and stop the risk of spreading the infection.
Photokeratitis or Sunburn
Overexposure to UV rays from the sun’s light can lead to photokeratitis, a type of sunburn that affects the cornea. Symptoms include sensitivity to light, pain, watering eyes, and seeing halos around lights.
Rosacea is a chronic skin disease of the face and it involves enlarged facial blood vessels. This brings about a flushed appearance to the nose and cheeks.
Ocular rosacea often spreads from the skin to eyelids, and it can cause a burning sensation and irritative redness.
Other symptoms of ocular rosacea can include eye pain and light sensitivity. In severe cases, it could lead to visual impairment.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system starts attacking the membranes on the joints. This can lead to dryness of membranes in other parts of your body as well, such as the conjunctiva in your eyes.
This will cause the eyes to be dry and, as a result, you are likely to experience a burning sensation.
Diagnosis of Burning Eyes or Stinging Eyes
It’s important to identify the underlying cause of stinging or burning eyes if you want a full solution. If your eyes are burning, head to your doctor as soon as you can.
A medical history will usually be taken by your eye doctor and many related questions will be asked. The questions cover a range of topics, such as when the symptoms started, what makes them worse or better, and if they have any other symptoms.
A doctor may also check for the medications that a person is taking. Certain medications, such as decongestants, may increase the likelihood of having burning eyes.
To fully examine the patient’s eye health, a doctor will perform a thorough eye examination. For this, they will assess for dryness, damage, or irregularities with specialized equipment, such as examination lens, and light.
Your eye doctor may also apply eye drops to check for any abnormalities in the eye and to test the flow of tears, or use stipes to test dryness in your eyes. Tear breakup time, Schirmer’s test, tear prism height, etc., are commonly used medical tests for dryness of the eye.
9 Home Remedies and Treatment for Stinging Eyes or Burning Eyes
Burning eyes can be caused by a variety of conditions, but the best way to treat them is dependent on the cause. If you think your burning eyes are because of a bacterial infection, you should take antibiotic eye drops to reduce your discomfort and speed up healing. Likewise, the stinging eyes due to dryness should be treated with the help of lubricating eyedrops.
Some of the vital home remedies and preventive measures to relieve burning eyes are mentioned below.
Lubricating Eye Drops for Burning Eyes
The burning sensation when you have a dry eye condition can be relieved by putting in some lubricating eye drops. When selecting the right artificial tears, it’s important to make sure that it doesn’t contain any sulfates or other preservatives- especially if you plan on using them frequently.
If discomfort due to stinging eyes continues, let your doctor know. They may be able to recommend a treatment that will work better for you and help relieve your burning eyes.
If you suffer from allergies, your doctor might prescribe eye drops that counteract the symptoms of a seasonal allergy. These drops are different from oral medications, which can often cause eye irritation since they’re administered directly to the eye.
To treat burning eyes caused by an allergic reaction in the eye, it’s best to use antihistamine eye drops or oral tablets. These are available online and at most pharmacies near you.
Ever experience burning eyes in the middle of the day when you take your allergy medicine? Make sure to talk to your doctor about that before stopping taking it together.
Keep Your Eyes Safe from Chemicals and Sunscreen
If you’ve accidentally got a household chemical in your eyes that’s causing a burning sensation, the first thing you should do is check the label for instructions. A lot of products will ask you to rinse them out with clean water or saline, which often has the same effect as blinking – it’ll alleviate any symptoms.
For instance, kids and adults sometimes get sunscreen in their eyes during summer. The burning and stinging sensation can be a challenge to deal with at first, but if you rinse the eyes with clean water, it should feel better pretty quickly.
Cold Compress Your Eyes
You may have heard about the benefits of cool compresses for sore muscles and headaches, but did you know that they can also help soothe burning eyes? The gentle cold compression that is applied over the closed eyelids also helps to reduce stinging eyes and itchy sensations.
Maintain Eye Hygiene
One way to clean your eyelids is to use an all-natural, gentle product such as baby shampoo. You can wash the eyelid margins by the base of the eyelashes with lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser, then pat them dry.
Drink Plenty of Water
Getting enough hydration during the day can go a long way in keeping eyes moist. Drinking plenty of water not only keeps you hydrated, but it helps moisturize dry areas of your skin. The same is true for your eyes, and drinking water throughout the day will keep them moist and healthy.
Limit Screen Use
The light emitted from screens can be harmful to the eye, leading to eye dryness, irritation, and burning eyes. Taking regular breaks from these screens can reduce the risk of these symptoms.
Protect Your Eyes from Sunlight
Wearing sunglasses is a great way to protect your eyes from UV light and further irritation. This will help you avoid anything from dry, watery, red, and itchy eyes to a burning sensation.
Change Contact Lens or Lens Solution
Contact lens wearers experience burning eyes due to dryness. Sometimes, the stinging sensation is not related to dry eyes, rather it is related to the chemical of lens solution or the material of the contact lens.
If you find out that the reason for your burning eyes is due to lens material and contact lens solution, change the lens to another brand and use different lens solutions to relieve the problem of the lens and solution-induced burning eyes.
When Should You See a Doctor?
There are many potential symptoms that a person might experience when they have an eye problem. Burning eyes is one of the most common symptoms. You can ensure you’re on the right track towards solving the issue by getting an accurate diagnosis and then choosing the appropriate treatment.
If you are experiencing stinging or burning eyes along with pain or excessive light sensitivity as well as discharge, blurry vision, double vision, floaters, or flashing lights in your eyes, contact your eye doctor immediately.
Even if you are not experiencing any of these other symptoms, contact your ophthalmologist right away if the pain in your eyes persists for more than a few days.