Burning eyes can have several possible causes, ranging from the simple to the complex, and the burning sensation can occur with or without other symptoms such as itching, eye pain, watery eyes or discharge.
Frequently, burning eyes are caused by unavoidable environmental influences, such as strong winds or high pollen counts. However, similar sensations can be symptoms of a more serious eye problem that requires medical attention. To select appropriate treatment, it’s important to first establish the cause (or causes) of your burning eyes.
Causes of Burning Eyes
Sometimes it’s easy to tell what’s causing an eye to burn. For example, your eyes might burn if you get chemicals in them, such as shampoo ingredients, chlorine from a swimming pool, or sunscreen. Other common irritants that can make your eyes burn include makeup, skin moisturizers, soap and cleaning products.
Burning eyes can have many causes. A trip to the eye doctor is the best way to get relief. Wearing contact lenses for long periods of time also can make your eyes burn.
Burning eyes also can stem from environmental irritants like smog, smoke, dust, mold, pollen or pet dander. If you are allergic to any of these substances, they are even more likely to make your eyes burn. However, even “clean” air can cause your eyes to burn, especially when it’s particularly hot, cold or dry. Although getting something in your eyes can cause them to burn, burning eyes sometimes signal a serious eye condition. For example, conditions such as ocular rosacea, dry eyes, contact lens overwear syndrome and blepharitis can cause symptoms of burning eyes.
In fact, anything that causes inflammation can create a burning sensation. Eye allergies, as well as bacterial and viral eye infections, can cause inflammation that leads to burning eyes. Even a common cold or the flu can cause eyes to burn. In rare instances, burning eyes can be a sign of a serious sight- or life-threatening condition such as uveitis or orbital cellulitis.
Often, burning eyes occur alongside other symptoms that can give your eye doctor clues about the root cause of your discomfort. For example, when burning eyes occur with itching, it may signal allergies; or if you have burning and eye discharge, this could mean an infection.