Have you ever wondered why your eyes feel itchy and reddish? I know you find this so annoying and uncomfortable as you literally cannot focus on anything. Your eyes readily tell you when something is wrong and you need to pay attention. Basically, you can describe irritation of the eyes as a feeling that something is disturbing in your eyes evidenced by a feeling of achy, itchy, redness, burning or sensitivity to light. These symptoms might be familiar but there are various causes of eye irritation.

Keep reading as we explore the common symptoms and possible causes of what irritates your eye and how you can take care of them.

What are the most common symptoms of eye irritation?

You are experiencing an eye irritation if you have the following symptoms:

  • Teary or watery eyes
  • Redness of the eye
  • Eye pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Itchy eyes during the day or at night and
  • Blurred vision.


What causes your eye irritation?

Foreign objects

It is possible some foreign objects find their way into your eyes. The object can be anything that strays no matter the size such as a piece of glass, strand of hair. These objects can cause damage to your eye. If you suspect this when you have eye irritation, you will likely need to be examined by shining a small light into your eye to see the object. The treatment basically involves removal of the foreign object and based on the harm inflicted, you might be placed on a course of antibiotics to prevent infection.

Eye Strain

Another cause for eye irritation is when you have been using your computer or phone with a bright screen over an extended period of time. This is known as a digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome. This can cause discomfort to you and you may experience headache, pain in your neck and shoulders with dry eyes. The symptoms are temporary and you should be relieved when you stop using the computer or phone.

The association of American Optometric endorses that you apply the rule 20-20-20 with the use of electronic devices and this means taking 20 seconds to look at the screen and about 20ft far away after every 20 minutes of work.


You can experience eye allergies when the membranes of your eye comes in contact with something you are allergic to. These allergens may be dust, mites, and molds. You will experience the symptoms of this shortly after you are exposed to the allergen.

Treatment is centered on relieving the symptoms. Over the counter medications or eye drops may help.


When your eyes are accidentally exposed to irritants such as smoke, dust or chemical vapors, it can result to eye irritation. Your eyes may respond by being watery or reddish after exposure and also with a grainy feeling. The first aid measure in most cases is by carefully rinsing the affected eye or eyes with lukewarm water to relieve the symptoms.

If your eyes are exposed to some irritants, it may result to permanent damage to your eyes so, it requires that you seek prompt medical help if your symptoms don’t resolve after rinsing with water.

Dry eye

Tears are secreted from glands located near your eyes and they help to keep your eyes moist and well lubricated. In a situation whereby the quantity and quality of tears is insufficient to keep your eyes moist, you can experience a dry eye. This further irritates your eye giving you a scratchy feeling as if you have something in them.


You can experience eye irritation due to a variety of bacterial, viral or fungal infections. This will further result to inflammation of the eyes, itchy sensation, presence of pus or discharge, and crusting of the eyelids as well.

Treatment for this depends on what is causing the infection but it varies from an antibiotics eye drop if it’s a bacterial infection or an antifungal medication if the cause is a fungal organism.


The presence of a stye which is a painful lump at the edge of your eye can result to an eye irritation. Stye usually disappears on their own and often with warm compresses. When it is persistent, it may be treated with antibiotics or surgery to drain the pus.

Eye conditions

There are other medical conditions that can irritate your eyes and they include Blepharitis (inflammation of your eyelids), Glaucoma (damage to the optic nerve of your eyes), Brain tumor, multiple sclerosis amongst others. The treatment measures ranges from home eye care, use of medicated eye drops, or steroid treatment.