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February 19, 2021
Do you often find yourself rubbing your eyes at the end of a long day? If so, you’re not alone – many of us are guilty of doing it. The reason it feels so good is twofold: first, rubbing your eyes lubricates them because it stimulates tear production; and secondly, it stimulates the vagus nerve, which relieves stress by lowering your heart rate.
However, rubbing your eyes too often or too hard can actually damage your eyes in a variety of ways.
Your hands carry more germs than any other part of your body. When you rub your eyes, you run the risk of spreading bacteria, allergens, and viruses into your eyes – this can lead to infections like pink eye.
Before touching your eyes, you should always wash your hands thoroughly. Handwashing should always be done before putting in contact lenses or instilling eye drops.
Rubbing your eyes can break the delicate blood vessels in your eyes, which will results in a bloody spot on your eye (called a subconjunctival hemorrhage). If the bleed is very bad, it can cause your eye to swell, which can be irritating when blinking.
Rubbing your eyes can also potentially cause cornea damage. You can easily rub a bit of mascara or a speck of dust into your eye which can scratch the cornea. A corneal abrasion is not only painful, but it can also lead to an infection or even permanent vision loss.
Rubbing your eyes can also exacerbate certain eye conditions like keratoconus or glaucoma. In patients with glaucoma, rubbing the eyes may cause a temporary spike in eye pressure which can lead to further deterioration of the optic nerve. Rubbing can also thin the cornea leading to a condition called keratoconus, which results in decreased vision and the possible need for a cornea transplant.
If you want to stop rubbing your eyes, you should first identify the reason that you’re rubbing them.
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