Is It Bad To Rub Your Eyes?


When you’re tired, stressed, or frustrated, you may find yourself rubbing your eyes. Doing so may relieve symptoms like dryness and itching, but this temporary relief may bring about eye damage in the long run. In this post, we’ll discuss the negative effects of eye rubbing, and what you can do to break this habit.

At Rochester Optical, we’re dedicated to helping you achieve clear vision and healthy eyes. Whether you’re dealing with blurry vision or bothersome symptoms, our optometry team is here to find a solution. Request an appointment online to start making eye care part of your regular healthcare routine!

Negative Effects of Eye Rubbing

Broken Capillaries

Capillaries are tiny blood vessels that can be found throughout the body. These structures are quite fragile, and the thin skin around the eyes does not offer much protection. Rubbing your eyes and the area around them can pull and press on these capillaries, causing them to burst. The result is redness, puffiness, and even dark circles. If you’re experiencing these after effects, try gently applying a cold compress to your eyes in the mornings, after physical activity, or whenever you notice the appearance of these symptoms. A freezable gel-bead mask designed to be worn on the eyes can be a convenient solution.

Transfer of Bacteria

Think of all the surfaces your hands touch during the day. Perhaps you pet your dog or cat, type on a keyboard, share various objects and appliances, or even clean up a mess or two. In an ideal world, we’d never touch our faces much at all. More realistically, the goal would be to not touch our faces with dirty hands. Without 24/7 access to soap and running water, this can be a challenge. Rubbing our face and eyes is nearly second nature, but this habit brings bacteria and germs straight into our bodies. Try to be more aware of when you rub your eyes, and keep your hands and commonly touched surfaces and objects as clean as possible as a safety net.

Scratches and Other Damage

If you’ve ever gotten the urge to rub your eye after an eyelash or small piece of debris made its way in, stop! Rubbing your eye while something is trapped beneath your lid can cause the object to be dragged across your cornea, resulting in scratches. While a small scratch will typically heal without complications, it’s always better to avoid creating any scratches in the first place. Instead of rubbing your eye when you feel something bothersome has gotten in it, wash out the debris with clean water or a sterile eye solution.

Premature Aging

Can rubbing your eyes give you wrinkles? It’s possible! If you rub your eyes often, you may end up stretching out the skin and damaging its collagen bonds. The friction caused by rubbing can also thin out the skin, making it even more fragile. This can also damage the skin’s barrier, a key protective component that keeps out infection and retains moisture. If you want to maintain your skin’s youthful look and elasticity, ditching the eye-rubbing habit is a must.

Corneal Thinning

Just as a river can wear away rock to form a canyon, rubbing your eyes over and over again can wear away your cornea — that’s not a happy visual! Speaking of visuals, this type of wear can actually cause your cornea to change shape and negatively impact your vision. You may think that your eyelids could protect your cornea, but the skin there is too thin to do so. In fact, you’ll be damaging your eyelids as well.

Create Better Eye Health Habits Today!

If you’re struggling to stop rubbing your eyes, you may benefit from visiting an eye doctor. Eye rubbing that is related to eye pain, dryness, or itching could be a sign of an eye condition that is treatable by an optometrist. To experience safe, effective relief from your bothersome eye symptoms, request an appointment at Rochester Optical today!