I’m an Optometrist: Here’s Why Rubbing Your Eyes Is Dangerous

This could make you see things differently.

Rubbing your eyes due to sleepiness, stress or even allergies could have detrimental effects, warns British optometrist Nimmi Mistry.

The habit, often “an automatic response to tired and irritated eyes”, could result in “a host of problems”, he told the Mirror in an interview this week.

Your phone, laptop and desk are loaded with germs, including staph aureus and strep, “which can be transferred to the eye simply by touching them and cause potential eye infections, such as bacterial conjunctivitis,” Mistry explained.

Not only that, but rubbing can damage your eyes.

The habit, often “an automatic response to tired and irritated eyes”, could result in a “plenty of problems”, Mistry told the Mirror.

Woman rubbing her temples
Rubbing your eyes not only puts you at risk for an infection, but it could also damage your cornea.

“Aggressive eye rubbing can cause scratches to the cornea, the outermost part of the eye, making you more susceptible to such infections,” he continued.

Cleveland Clinic warns that rubbing your eyes can move your eyelashes and scrape your cornea “with every blink,” which could lead to a condition called keratoconus, in which the cornea becomes cone-shaped instead of rounded.

“When the cornea weakens, it can develop a cone, rather than a smooth dome. This cone will bend the light incorrectly and the glasses will not correct the vision,” optometrist Dr. Weston Tuten told the Cleveland Clinic, explaining that the condition requires special and expensive contact lenses.

Symptoms of a damaged cornea include sensitivity to light, blurred or reduced vision, swelling, headaches, eye pain, fatigue, and nausea.

But if you can’t resist the touch, Mistry says washing your hands is vital.

He also advises using a clean tissue instead.

“Eye hygiene is imperative, so you should also ensure that you always wash your hands and refrain from touching your eyes unnecessarily,” he said.

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