Doctor warns against rubbing eyes if they get itchy as it can cause incurable condition
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An eye doctor has warned people against rubbing their eyes if they feel itchy, as it can cause an incurable condition.
Ophthalmologist Dr Imane Tarib uses her TikTok profile to encourage people to take care of their corneas - and has warned that rubbing your eyes could have serious health consequences down the line.
The more you rub your eyes, the more your cornea's surface changes shape, which will break down the collagen fibre network inside.
Keratoconus is an eye condition that causes the normally dome-shaped cornea to thin and turn into a cone-like bulge.
This can result in blurred or distorted vision, increased sensitivity to light, and sudden cloudy vision.
So, if you're suddenly finding it a little harder to make out lights on the road, getting headaches when trying to focus, or struggling to read the newspaper, you might have been rubbing your eyes too hard.
Currently, there is no known cure for keratoconus, and it's a life-long condition - though sometimes scleral lenses can assist with vision trouble.
Keratoconus can often be a genetic condition, but research has found that vigorous eye-rubbing can also be a cause.
Anything from repetitive, gentle eye-rubbing to vigorous knuckle-y rubs can be a key factor in bringing on keratoconus, studies have found.
So, in some cases where there's a family history of keratoconus, the condition might not be preventable. But in many, the disorder can be kept at bay by using safer methods to fix your itchy eyes.
First of all, according to Dr Tarib, there are some methods you can try to calm itchy eyes without even touching them.
Blinking slowly and using artificial tears eye drops can both work to soothe and lubricate your dry, itchy eyes without causing any damage.
But if you really, really need to rub them, the best way to do it is by taking an index finger and gently press the the inner corner of your eye, under the eye, and the temple - and leave it at that.
And if you're still not convinced that you should stop rubbing your tired eyes, you should probably know that keratoconus isn't the only condition to be worried about.
Rubbing your eyes can cause nerve damage, and break tiny blood vessels in your eyes, which could cause wrinkles, dark circles, and bloodshot eyes.
Getting your fingers in your eyes can also cause eye infections by introducing bacteria and germs to a sensitive area.
And if you think allergies are an excuse to give those balls a rub, you'll mightn't be too thrilled to hear that rubbing your eyes will actually make your allergy symptoms worse.
So if you want to keep that 20/20 vision, keep your hands in your pockets.
Featured Image Credit: dreyetarib/TikTok