Burning Eye S) Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand your burning eye(s) symptoms, including 10 causes & common questions.

Burning Eye(S) Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your burning eye(s)

Contents

  1. 10 Possible Burning Eye(S) Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics
  4. Related Articles

10 Possible Burning Eye(S) Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced burning eye(s). This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Acute allergic conjunctivitis

Itchy, red, swelling of the whites of the eyes can be caused by allergies to any number of things (like pollen, hay, etc).

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: eye itch, eye redness, watery eye discharge, itch in both eyes, eye redness

Symptoms that always occur with acute allergic conjunctivitis: eye itch, eye redness

Symptoms that never occur with acute allergic conjunctivitis: lump in front of the ear, vision changes

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Chronic allergic conjunctivitis

Itchy, red, swelling of the whites of the eyes caused by allergies to any number of things (like pollen, hay, etc).

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: watery eye discharge, eye redness, itch in both eyes, severe eye itch, swollen eyelid

Symptoms that always occur with chronic allergic conjunctivitis: itch in both eyes, eye redness, severe eye itch

Symptoms that never occur with chronic allergic conjunctivitis: vision changes, lump in front of the ear

Urgency: Self-treatment

Chronically dry eyes

Chronically dry eyes are a relatively common condition, especially in older adults, that can be very uncomfortable and lead to damage of the surface of the eye. They are caused by a decrease in the tear production of the eye or an increase in tear evaporation. Risk factors inc...

Read more

Bacterial conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, is an inflammation of the clear membranes covering the eye. It causes redness, pain, and irritation of one or both eyes.

Staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria are often involved, and anything that brings bacteria to the eye can cause conjunctivitis. Touching the eyes with unwashed hands; sharing eye makeup, washcloths, or towels; or improperly cleaning contact lenses are common causes. The same bacteria that cause the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia and gonorrhea can also cause conjunctivitis.

Most susceptible are children, but anyone can be affected.

Symptoms include a gritty, burning feeling in the eye; discharge or tears; swelling; itching; pink discoloration due to dilated blood vessels; and sensitivity to light.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and careful eye examination. Smears may be taken from the eye for testing.

Treatment involves a course of antibiotic eyedrops. It is important to use all of the drops as prescribed, even when the infection seems to improve. Warm compresses over the eyes can help ease the discomfort.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: sore throat, eye redness, eye itch, watery eye discharge, eye redness

Symptoms that always occur with bacterial conjunctivitis: eye redness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

New-onset seasonal allergies

New-onset seasonal allergies, also called adult-onset seasonal allergies, are sensitivities to pollen, mold, and other irritants that cause nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, and sore throat.

Seasonal allergies commonly begin in childhood but can start at any age, especially among those with a family history. Moving to a different geographic location may trigger the allergy in someone with a genetic predisposition. Anyone with asthma is more likely to experience adult-onset seasonal allergies.

Sometimes the symptoms are actually from "pregnancy rhinitis" – nasal congestion and sneezing due to the effects of pregnancy hormones on the nasal tissue.

A new-onset allergy is often thought to be a cold, but a cold will clear up without treatment. Allergies persist, never getting better or worse, and can interfere with quality of life.

Diagnosis is made by an allergist, who will use skin tests and blood tests.

There is no cure for seasonal allergies but the symptoms can be managed for greater comfort and relief. Antihistamines, corticosteroid nasal sprays, and immunotherapy or "allergy shots" can be very effective.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: sore throat, congestion, cough with dry or watery sputum, mucous dripping in the back of the throat, fatigue

Symptoms that never occur with new-onset seasonal allergies: fever, yellow-green runny nose, chills, muscle aches

Urgency: Self-treatment

Burning Eye(S) Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your burning eye(s)

Viral conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, is an inflammation of the clear membranes covering the eye. It causes redness, pain, and irritation of one or both eyes.

The viral form of conjunctivitis is very contagious because it is caused by the same viruses that cause influenza or the common cold. It is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and then someone else inhales the virus from the droplets in the air.

Symptoms include a gritty, burning feeling in the eye; discharge or tears; swelling; itching; pink discoloration due to dilated blood vessels; and sensitivity to light.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and careful eye examination. Smears may be taken from the eye for testing.

Antibiotics only work against bacteria and cannot help against a viral illness, and so antibiotic eyedrops are not effective against viral conjunctivitis. Treatment includes easing the symptoms with eyedrops and warm or cool compresses over the eyes until the illness has run its course, which takes two to three weeks.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: eye redness, eye itch, sensitivity to light, feeling of something in the eye, watery eye discharge

Symptoms that always occur with viral conjunctivitis: eye redness

Urgency: Self-treatment

Irritated eye causing swelling

Chemosis is a sign of eye irritation. The outer surface of the eye can look like a blister, filled with water or fluid. It can occur from infection or allergies, or as in this case, from rubbing the eye.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: swelling of the eye area, eye itch, eye redness, swollen whites of eyes

Symptoms that always occur with irritated eye causing swelling: swelling of the eye area

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Contact lens-related eye infection

Millions of people wear contact lens daily without issue; however, there is a risk of infection. Often, infection is avoidable by keeping lenses clean.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: eye redness, wateriness in both eyes, sensitivity to light, constant eye redness, eye redness

Symptoms that always occur with contact lens-related eye infection: eye redness, constant eye redness

Urgency: In-person visit

Inflamed eyelid (blepharitis)

Inflamed eyelid, or blepharitis, is a bacterial infection of the skin at the base of the eyelashes.

If the oil glands around the eyelashes become clogged, normal skin bacteria will multiply in the oil and cause infection. The glands can become blocked due to dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows; allergies to eye makeup or contact lens solution; or eyelash mites or lice.

Symptoms include red, swollen, painful eyelids; oily, dandruff-like flakes of skin at the base of the eyelashes; and eyelashes that grow abnormally or fall out.

If the symptoms do not clear with hygiene, see a medical provider. Blepharitis can become chronic and lead to infections of the eyelids and cornea; dry eyes which cannot take contact lenses; and scarring and deformity of the eyelids.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination of the eyelids, under magnification and through skin swab of the eyelashes.

Treatment includes warm compresses and careful washing of the eyelids; antibiotics in pill or cream form; steroid eyedrops; and treatment for any underlying condition such as dandruff or rosacea.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: eye itch, sensitivity to light, eye redness, feeling of something in the eye, dry eyes

Symptoms that never occur with inflamed eyelid (blepharitis): severe eye pain

Urgency: Self-treatment

Vernal conjunctivitis

Vernal conjunctivitis is long-term (chronic) swelling (inflammation) of the outer lining of the eyes due to an allergic reaction. Vernal conjunctivitis often occurs in people with a strong family history of allergies, such as allergic rhinitis, asthma, and eczema.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: wateriness in both eyes, eye itch, eye redness, sensitivity to light, feeling of something in the eye

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Burning Eye(S)

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Do you have a stuffy nose?
  • Do you have a runny nose?
  • Does light bother your eyes more than usual?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Please take a quiz to find out what might be causing your burning eye(s). These questions are also covered.

Take quiz

Burning Eye(S) Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced burning eye(s) have also experienced:

  • 8% Eye Pain
  • 7% Headache
  • 5% Fatigue

People who have experienced burning eye(s) were most often matched with:

  • 50% Acute Allergic Conjunctivitis
  • 25% Chronic Allergic Conjunctivitis
  • 25% Chronically Dry Eyes

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Burning Eye(S) Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your burning eye(s)