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Think Again Next Time You Rub Your Eyes

We have all been there… An irritation or itch in the eye and we rub our fists to feel relief.

The action of rubbing eyes stimulates tears, lubricating dry eyes and removing dust and other irritants.

It can also be therapeutic, as pressing down on the eyeball stimulates the vagus nerve and slows down the heart rate, relieving stress.

While rubbing your eyes may seem harmless, if you rub your eyes too often or too hard you can actually damage your eye.

Here are a few reasons you should reconsider rubbing your eyes:

  • It can cause an unsightly appearance. It causes tiny blood vessels to break, resulting in bloodshot eyes and dark circles.
  • Germs can enter through the eye socket. Your hands carry more germs than any other body part and can easily transmit germs leading to infections like conjunctivitis.
  • You can damage your eye’s nerves. Rubbing to remove a foreign object stuck in your eye can scratch the cornea.
  • Rubbing is dangerous for people with pre-existing eye conditions. Those with progressive myopia can worsen their eyesight through rubbing, and people with glaucoma can cause a spike in eye pressure that disrupts blood flow to the back of the eye.
  • It can thin your cornea. Damage to the cornea through rubbing causes it to be weakened and conical, potentially leading to distorted vision.

Next time you get an itch or irritant to the eye, try flushing it out with sterile saline or artificial tears. Eye drops also help prevent dry, itchy eyes.

If you feel that your eye irritation is a chronic condition, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your ophthalmologist.

Dr. Stephen H. Uretsky is a board-certified ophthalmologist with 35 years of practice experience who specializes in comprehensive eye care. Dr. Michael G. Miller is a dedicated optometrist with a passion for helping correct vision loss in patients. Coastal Jersey Eye Center features an optical center, Classic Eyewear, which provides eyeglass frames and lenses to suit every style and budget.

For more information on eye exams or to schedule an appointment, call the Linwood office at 609-927-3373 or the Cape May Court House office at 609-465-7926. Visit us online at