Why Do My Eyes Burn? Identify The Common Reasons And Find Relief

By Michael Bennett

Updated On

Have you ever experienced a burning sensation in your eyes that causes discomfort, redness, and irritation? Burning eyes can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition that affects many people. This sensation can make it difficult to focus on daily activities and negatively impact your quality of life. Burning eyes can be caused by various factors, including environmental irritants, underlying health conditions, and certain medications.

Key Takeaways

  1. Burning eyes are often caused by dry eyes, allergies, infections, or digital eye strain.
  2. Maintaining good eye hygiene, using artificial tears, and taking screen breaks can help alleviate burning eyes.
  3. If burning eyes persist or worsen, it’s important to consult an eye doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

What are Burning Eyes?

Burning eyes are characterized by a hot, stinging, or irritated sensation in the eyes. This discomfort is often accompanied by redness, itching, and sensitivity to light. Some people may also experience a gritty or foreign body sensation as if there is something stuck in their eyes. These symptoms can make it challenging to read, work on a computer, or engage in other daily activities comfortably.

Why do my eyes burn? Common Eye Conditions That Cause Burning Eyes

Several common eye conditions can lead to burning eyes. One of the most prevalent is allergies. Allergic reactions to pollen, pet dander, or other irritants can cause the eyes to become red, itchy, and watery, leading to a burning sensation. Eye infections, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye), can also cause burning eyes along with discharge and crusting around the eyelids.

Digital eye strain is another frequent culprit behind burning eyes. Prolonged use of digital devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets can cause the eyes to become fatigued and dry, resulting in a burning sensation. This is because people tend to blink less when focusing on a screen, which can lead to increased tear evaporation and dry eyes.

The Connection Between Burning Eyes and Dry Eyes

Dry eyes and burning eyes often go hand in hand. When the eyes do not produce enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly, it can lead to dryness and irritation. Various factors, including aging, hormonal changes, certain medications, and environmental conditions like dry or windy weather can cause insufficient tear production or poor tear quality.

Certain medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroid disorders, can also contribute to dry eyes and subsequent burning sensations. Additionally, some medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, and antidepressants, can reduce tear production and exacerbate dry eye symptoms.

How to Treat or Alleviate Burning Eyes?

If you’re experiencing burning eyes, there are several strategies you can try to alleviate the discomfort:

  • Use artificial tears: Over-the-counter artificial tear solutions can help lubricate the eyes and reduce dryness and irritation. Look for preservative-free options if you plan to use them frequently.
  • Apply warm compresses: Placing a warm, damp washcloth over your eyes for a few minutes can help stimulate tear production and soothe burning sensations. This can also help clear away any debris or discharge around the eyelids.
  • Avoid irritants: Try to identify and minimize exposure to any environmental factors that may be contributing to your burning eyes, such as smoke, dust, or chemical fumes. When outdoors, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from wind and UV rays.
  • Take screen breaks: If you spend a lot of time working on a computer or using digital devices, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This can help reduce digital eye strain and prevent burning eyes.

If your burning eyes persist or worsen despite these self-care measures, it’s essential to consult an eye doctor. They can perform a comprehensive eye exam to identify any underlying conditions and recommend appropriate treatment options, such as prescription eye drops or medications.

How to prevent burning eyes?

Prevention is key when it comes to avoiding burning eyes. Here are some tips to help reduce your risk:

  • Maintain good eye hygiene: Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your eyes, especially if you have allergies or an eye infection. Clean your eyelids gently with a warm, damp cloth to remove any debris or discharge.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help keep your body, including your eyes, properly hydrated. This can help prevent dry eyes and subsequent burning sensations.
  • Use a humidifier: If you live or work in a dry environment, consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air. This can help prevent your eyes from becoming dry and irritated.
  • Wear protective eyewear: When engaging in activities that may expose your eyes to irritants, such as swimming or working with chemicals, wear appropriate protective eyewear like goggles or safety glasses.
  • Schedule regular eye exams: Routine check-ups with an eye doctor can help detect any underlying eye conditions early on, allowing for prompt treatment and prevention of more serious issues.


Burning eyes can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition that affects many people. By understanding the common causes, such as dry eyes, allergies, infections, and digital eye strain, you can take steps to alleviate the discomfort and prevent future occurrences. Maintaining good eye hygiene, using artificial tears, and taking regular breaks from screens are just a few strategies that can help manage burning eyes.

Remember, if your burning eyes persist or worsen despite self-care measures, it’s crucial to consult an eye doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. By prioritizing your eye health and seeking professional help when needed, you can find relief from burning eyes and enjoy clearer, more comfortable vision.


Q: Can contact lenses cause burning eyes?

A: Yes, wearing contact lenses for extended periods or not cleaning them properly can lead to burning eyes and other discomfort.

Q: Are there any home remedies for burning eyes?

A: Applying warm compresses, using artificial tears, and taking breaks from digital screens can help alleviate burning eyes at home.

Q: When should I see an eye doctor for burning eyes?

A: If your burning eyes persist, worsen, or are accompanied by severe pain, vision changes, or discharge, consult an eye doctor promptly.

Q: Can stress cause burning eyes?

A: While stress itself may not directly cause burning eyes, it can contribute to dry eyes and digital eye strain, which can lead to burning sensations.


  1. National Eye Institute. (2019). Dry Eye. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/dry-eye
  2. American Optometric Association. (n.d.). Computer Vision Syndrome. https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/computer-vision-syndrome

Michael Bennett

Ophthalmologist Dr. Michael Bennett is board-certified and has been treating eye conditions and doing eye surgery for more than 15 years. At the esteemed Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, where he served as Chief Resident, he finished his ophthalmology residency.

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