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Why Do My Eyes Burn?

Dry Eye Girl 640×350Do you routinely feel a burning sensation in your eyes that takes a while to go away? Normally a burning or stinging feeling is due to a minor irritation from dust or other foreign objects or substances getting in your eyes. In many cases, this goes away with a few good blinks and some tears to wash out the irritant. However, if the burning sensation doesn’t go away or continues to come back, you may have a more serious issue that requires the assistance of a trained eye care professional.

Read more below to find out what may be causing the burning sensation in your eyes, and how we can help treat it.

Common Eye Conditions That Cause Burning Eyes

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is the most common reason for a burning sensation in the eyes. This chronic condition happens either because your eyes are not producing enough tears, or the tears being produced don’t have the right components (water, oil, and mucus) to keep the eyes properly hydrated. This causes your eyes to dry out, resulting in symptoms such as red, dry, itchy, and burning/stinging eyes.

Pink Eye (Viral or BacterialConjunctivitis)

Conjunctivitis, commonly called pink eye, is a highly contagious eye infection that can affect either one or both eyes. It can be caused either by a bacterial or a viral infection, and is spread by direct or indirect contact with the infected eye. Symptoms include watery, burning or itchy eyes.


Blepharitis is a swelling of the eyelids that can be caused by viral or bacterial infection, as well as infestation of a certain type of microscopic mite, known as demodex mites. Symptoms of blepharitis include inflamed, sore, red eyelids, crusty debris at the base of the eyelashes, and a stinging or burning sensation in the eyes.

What Environmental Factors Cause Burning Eyes?

Your eyes can also sting from factors in your environment. Common environmental factors include:

  • Pet dander, pollen, mold, and other allergens in the air
  • Perfumes, colognes, scented shampoos, and skin creams
  • Certain chemicals found in household cleaning supplies, such as in aerosol sprays and disinfectants
  • Particles such as dust or sand getting stuck in the eyes

The Connection Between Burning Eyes and Dry Eyes

Tears are necessary for maintaining eye health and for providing clear and comfortable vision. Whenever tiny foreign particles enter the eye, tears form and clean out the eye while keeping the eye moist. However, when tears evaporate too quickly and the eyes become dry, as in the case of dry eye syndrome, it can lead to an itchy and burning sensation in the eyes.

How Can I Treat or Alleviate Burning Eyes?

If you feel a burning sensation in your eyes, talk to your eye doctor as soon as possible. Depending on the cause of your symptoms, we have a number of treatment options available. If our eye care team diagnoses you with dry eye syndrome, we may prescribe you with medicated eye drops or artificial tears that alleviate the burning sensation by making sure your eyes stay properly hydrated. Steroid drops may also be prescribed to alleviate severe itching or burning.

If you have an eye infection or blepharitis, we will prescribe anti-inflammatory drops that target the source of the issue quickly and effectively to bring down swelling and clear up the infection.

Antihistamines and decongestants can help alleviate symptoms of an allergic reaction and minimize or even eliminate the burning sensation.

Properly diagnosing and treating the underlying causes of your burning or stinging eyes requires the assistance of trained eye care professionals. Come speak to our Belmont eye doctor, Dr. Barbara Marcussen, at our Dry Eye Center at Complete Eye Care, today!