Irritated Eye Symptoms

Eye irritations may be caused by foreign materials in the eye, allergens, bacteria or viruses. Anyone can experience an irritation to the eye, and the condition can usually be treated at home, although severe or persistent irritations may require medical treatment by a general physician or ophthalmologist.

Abnormal Sensations

Irritated eyes may cause a burning sensation, which may be made worse by opening the eyes. Irritated eyes may also sting, which can cause severe discomfort. People with eye irritations may feel as if they have dirt or sand in their eyes and experience a gritty or sticky sensation.


Irritated eyes may excrete strings or globs of mucus, which may interfere with being able to open the eyes. The mucus may become thicker at night, and the eyes and eyelashes may be crusted over after you wake up in the morning. The mucus may stick to the eye’s surface and can be difficult to remove, especially in children and those who are unable to perform careful personal hygiene.


People with eye irritations may experience pain when trying to open their eyes. The pain and pressure in the eye may be made worse by exposure to water, soap or bright lights or when touching the area around the eye. People with irritated eyes may also experience eye pain when exposed to extreme temperatures, wind or smoke.


People with irritated eyes may notice redness of the whites of their eyes. The eyelids may become red and swollen, and may even swell shut if the irritation is severe. Redness may become worse or persist for several weeks, especially if you frequently or vigorously rub your eyes or try to insert contacts.


Irritated eyes may produce more tears than normal, especially from irritations caused by foreign materials in the eye. People with eye irritations caused by dry eyes may also experience tearing, usually in both eyes at the same time. People with irritations caused by the infection conjunctivitis, or “pink eye,” may also experience excessive tearing which may persist throughout the course of the infection.

Eye irritations may be caused by foreign materials in the eye