Young boy with tissue paper rubbing eye in backyardDealing with irritated eyes makes it difficult to work, drive and do many other daily activities. While it’s easy to figure out why your eyes are bothering you in certain cases, such as being near cigarette smoke, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause at other times. There are many things that can make your eyes look red or feel irritated. Once you know the cause, you can take steps to help your eyes feel better and prevent further irritation.


Dust, pet dander, pollen and other allergens can make your eyes red, watery and itchy. You might also be sensitive to other irritants, such as chlorine in pools. Keep in mind that you might have other symptoms if your eyes are irritated by allergens, such as a runny nose or itchy skin.


Dirt, sand, grit or other debris can cause pain, scratchiness and irritation. Your eyes might also water and be sensitive to light. Since these foreign objects could scratch your cornea, it’s important to flush your eyes with water and contact your eye doctor if your eyes are still bothering you.

 Infections and Inflammation

Bacterial and viral infections, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye), can cause severe redness and a sticky discharge. Your eyelids might be coated with crust, and the infection could spread from one eye to the other. Other infections and inflammation that can cause irritation include inflammation of the uvea, known as uveitis, or swelling along the eyelid, called blepharitis.


Trauma to the eye can lead to pain and irritation. If you have an eye injury, seek medical eye care in order to reduce the risk of developing serious vision problems. Wearing contact lenses too much can also end up causing corneal scratches or other problems that can irritate your eyes.

Medical Conditions

Some underlying medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune disorders, can cause eye irritation due to dryness. This irritation can turn into a chronic condition, so it’s important to discuss proper eye care with your eye doctor. Your doctor should also be able to provide you with drops to reduce dryness and irritation.

If your eyes continue to bother you, don’t hesitate to make an eye care appointment. Your eye doctor will be able to determine the cause and recommend treatment to relieve irritation and protect your vision.