Rubbing the eyes is a habit that brings more harm than good. Most of us rub our eyes when we are down with the flu, fever, or when we’re feeling tired after a long day. Not to mention, the casual eye-rubbing in the morning upon waking up to wipe away dried-up mucus and debris. While rubbing does lubricate and relieve the eyes of dust and various irritants, rubbing it too frequently or too hard will cause damage, both temporary and permanent. Here are some of the common bad or side effects of rubbing your eyes excessively.
It Enhances Your Dark Circles
The skin around the eyes is extremely thin and delicate, which means excessive rubbing of the eyes might cause damage to the tiny blood vessels underneath. When this happens, blood will flow into the tissue surrounding it (which is the skin under your eyes), temporarily making the skin under your eyes appear darker. If you already have dark eye circles, this will obviously enhance it.
It Increases the Risk of Eye Infection
We all use our hands to rub our eyes, and our hands are perhaps the most contaminated part of our body. Why? We use our them for almost everything, from putting on our shoes in the morning to grabbing door knobs or handles. That’s not all we use our hands for, but it is more than enough to get our hands contaminated with bacteria and allergens. Rubbing your eyes facilitates the direct transfer of bacteria onto your eye, significantly increasing the risk of eye infection. These infections may range from red eye to allergic conjunctivitis.
It Damages Your Cornea
The cornea is very sensitive and can be damaged easily. When rubbing the eyes, there’s always a small chance of scratching your cornea with your fingernails. This causes abrasions, which might translate into long-term vision problems. Furthermore, your fingers may also contain foreign particles like dust which will end up lingering on the surface of your eyes. Most people will rub the eye in an attempt to remove it. However, rubbing may push the dust particle further into your eyes, damaging the cornea.
It Alters the Shape of the Cornea
The cornea is the first layer of the eye. Its function is to refract and redirect all incoming light to the back of the eye, also known as the retina. In order to function optimally, it has to maintain its curved shape. When one rubs their eye, they risk weakening or breaking the tiny collagen fibres that give the cornea its gently-curved shape. If severe enough, the cornea will bulge into a cone-like shape, resulting in keratoconus. Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease that degrades one’s vision to the point where leading a normal life is impossible.
It Releases Even More Histamines
Histamines are what your immune system releases in order to protect itself when it’s under attack by allergens. While its main function is to defend you from allergens, it also triggers inflammation, causing red, irritated, swollen and itchy eyes. Rubbing your itchy eyes during this period will actually stimulate the release of even more histamines. Instead of relieving the itch, it might make it worse altogether.
If you wear contact lenses, it can become really uncomfortable when you are experiencing itchy eyes. In addition, rubbing your itchy eyes while having your contacts is rather dangerous, as the contact lense might dislodge itself and travel to other parts of your eye. What you should do is take them off and switch to your glasses every couple of hours, as prolonged hours of lens wear is also known to cause itchy eyes.
Little did you know that this seemingly-harmless habit can actually cause tension and damage to the eyes. Now that you’re aware of the bad effects of rubbing your eyes, it’s time to put this habit to rest. However, if you are still experiencing itchy eyes after taking all the necessary precautions, don’t hesitate to consult an eye specialist immediately.