Here’s What Happens If You Rub Your Eyes Too Much

Something as basic as this could cause pigmentation. 

A study in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology suggests that “Periorbital hyperpigmentation (or dark circles around the eyes) can be caused by rubbing and scratching of skin around the eyes.”

Rubbing your eyes may lead to eye diseases, worsening the existing condition and even increasing the risk of eye infection.

If you stare at the computer all day long or have an eye allergy, nothing feels more satisfying than giving your eyes a good rub. Rubbing the eyes feels therapeutic because it stimulates the vagus nerve, which can slow down your heartbeat and relieve stress.

Having said that, rubbing your eyes too vigorously and too often can result in eye damage and exacerbate existing conditions, increasing your risk of infections. Here are things that can happen when you keep rubbing your eyes:

  • You can get dark circles and bloodshot eyes

If you rub your eye hard enough, you can break the tiny blood vessels in your eyes, which can result in bloodshot eyes. Dark circles can appear due to the inflammation caused by continuously rubbing the eyelid. The appearance of dark circles post-eye rubbing is called post-inflammatory pigmentary alteration.

  • ​It can increase the risk of serious eye disease

Chronic eye rubbing can weaken the cornea and lead to its distortion called keratoconus. Continuous rubbing of the corneal tissue can cause it to thin and become more cone-shaped. Severe damage can require a corneal transplant.

  • ​You can scratch your cornea

That eyelash or piece of dust in your eyes can cause immense irritation and temptation to rub the eyes. But this can make the situation worse. This puts you at risk of scratching your cornea, which typically heals in a day or two. But if not treated properly, it can result in an ulcer. If something like this happens, use water or saline to rinse your eye instead.

  • It can make your glaucoma worse

If you have any existing eye condition, rubbing the eyes can make it even worse. Glaucoma is often caused by an increase in the pressure inside the eye, known as intraocular pressure (IOP). This pressure can lead to several problems including damage to the optic nerve, which can eventually cause vision loss.

Patients taking glaucoma medicine are suggested not to rub their eyes, even if the medication makes them feel itchy and blurry.

  • ​It can make your nearsightedness worse

People with nearsightedness, also called myopia, can make their condition worse by rubbing their eyes. The condition has become common among people in the past few decades. According to a 2016 study published in the Opthalmology, nearly 9.6 million people are highly myopic and their vision tends to worsen over time.

  • ​It can increase your risk of infection

Even if you wash or sanitize your hands often, they can still pick up thousands of germs. Touching your eyes with dirty hands can transfer bacteria to the eyes that can cause conjunctivitis or redness in the eyes. If you get an infection in your eyes, a warm compress may help soothe it.


Frebetha Atieku Adjoh

News Editor, Lover of Arts & Entertainment

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