Is Rubbing Your Eye a Bad Habit?

Is Rubbing Your Eye a Bad Habit?

Jun 01, 2024

Eye rubbing is a reflex action that many people engage in without much thought. It involves applying pressure to the eyes with fingers or palms, often to relieve itching, irritation, or fatigue. While it may provide temporary relief, there are concerns about its potential harm to eye health. This blog shares the reasons for eye rubbing, its potential risks, alternatives to this habit, and tips for breaking it.

Reasons for Eye Rubbing

Eye rubbing can stem from various factors:

  • Itching or Irritation: The most common reason people rub their eyes is to alleviate itching or irritation caused by allergens, foreign particles, or dryness. Allergic reactions to mold, pollen, dust, or pet dander can trigger itching, prompting individuals to rub their eyes for relief.
  • Fatigue or Stress: Eye rubbing may also occur as a response to fatigue or stress. Prolonged screen time, intense concentration, or lack of sleep can strain the eyes, leading to discomfort that prompts rubbing as a coping mechanism.
  • Habitual Behavior: For some individuals, eye rubbing becomes a habitual behavior, often without any specific trigger or underlying cause. This habit may develop over time and persist even when there’s no immediate need for relief.
  • Allergic Reactions: Allergies to environmental factors such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander and other household allergens can lead to eye itching and rubbing as a natural response. The body’s immune system reacts to allergens by releasing histamines, which can cause itching and irritation in the eyes, sometimes resulting in bloodshot eyes.

Potential Risks of Eye Rubbing

While eye rubbing may provide temporary relief, it carries potential risks:

  • Eye Injuries: Vigorous rubbing of the eyes can lead to corneal abrasions or scratches, especially if foreign particles are present. The cornea, the clear protective layer that covers the front of the eye, is delicate and susceptible to damage from excessive rubbing.
  • Increased Risk of Infection: Rubbing introduces bacteria and germs from the hands into the eyes, increasing the infection risk such as pink eye or conjunctivitis. Bacterial or viral conjunctivitis can spread rapidly, especially in shared spaces such as schools or workplaces.
  • Aggravation of Underlying Eye Conditions: Eye rubbing can worsen pre-existing conditions including dry eye syndrome, blepharitis (eyelid inflammation), or keratoconus (cone-shaped cornea). These conditions may already cause discomfort or irritation, and rubbing can exacerbate symptoms.
  • Development of Dark Circles or Wrinkles: Chronic eye rubbing may contribute to the formation of dark circles under the eyes or premature wrinkles around the delicate eye area. The repeated friction and pressure on the face skin can damage collagen fibers and lead to visible signs of aging.

Alternatives to Eye Rubbing

Instead of resorting to eye rubbing, consider these alternatives:

  • Using Artificial Tears or Eye Drops: Lubricating eye drops can provide relief to eyes from dryness and irritation without the need for rubbing. They help replenish moisture in the eyes and soothe discomfort caused by environmental factors or screen time.
  • Applying Cold Compresses: Cold compresses can help soothe swollen or irritated eyes, reducing the urge to rub. A clean cloth soaked in cold water or a refrigerated eye mask can provide instant relief and minimize inflammation.
  • Practicing Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or gentle eye massages can help alleviate stress and reduce the need for eye rubbing. Stress management strategies can promote overall relaxation and ease tension in the eyes.
  • Seeking Professional Advice: If eye rubbing persists despite trying alternatives, it’s essential to consult an optometrist in Castle Pines. They can evaluate your eye health, identify underlying conditions, and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Tips for Breaking the Habit

Breaking the habit of eye rubbing requires conscious effort and persistence:

  • Increasing Awareness of Eye Rubbing: Start by becoming more mindful of the habit. Pay attention to when and why you feel the urge to rub your eyes and try to identify triggers or patterns.
  • Finding Alternative Coping Mechanisms: Explore alternative coping mechanisms such as blinking exercises, using distraction techniques, or practicing good posture to reduce eye strain.
  • Establishing a Healthy Eye Care Routine: Prioritize regular eye exams, maintain good hygiene, and follow recommended eye care practices to minimize the need for eye rubbing.
  • Seeking Support from Friends or Family: Enlist the support of loved ones to help you break the habit. They can provide encouragement, accountability, and reminders to avoid eye rubbing.


In conclusion, while eye rubbing may offer temporary relief from discomfort, it carries potential risks to eye health in the long run. By understanding the reasons behind the habit, recognizing its potential harms, and adopting alternative coping strategies, individuals can protect their eye health and reduce the need for eye rubbing. Remember to prioritize eye care, seek professional advice when needed, and take proactive steps to break the habit for healthier eyes and overall well-being.

Book Your Eye Checkup Today!

Don’t let eye rubbing compromise your vision. Schedule an appointment with Founders Eyecare to learn more about protecting your eyes and breaking the habit. Our experienced optometrists are here to provide personalized guidance and red eye treatment options. Say goodbye to eye discomfort and hello to clearer, healthier vision. Contact us now to prioritize your eye health and take the first step towards better eye care.

303-688-3636 Book Appointment
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