Your eyes are sensitive and will detect even the tiniest of changes. For example, if something small enters the eye, you will feel a certain level of discomfort until the foreign object gets flushed out. However, there are instances when you can feel like there is something in the eye for an extended time, even when there is no evidence of it.
Is There Something in Your Eye?
The feeling of a foreign substance in your eye can be irritating and frustrating. Sometimes this feeling goes away on its own. But if it persists, you may feel forced to rub and scratch your eyes, which could prove even more painful long-term if the feeling does not end.
Your eyes are one of the vital body senses. If you have a feeling that something is in your eye, find someone to check to see if anything is perceptible on your eyeball. If you can’t establish a clear cause, you should consider seeing a specialist. As with most vision complications, the sooner you get your eyes professionally examined, the better.
What Causes You to Feel Like You Have Something Stuck in Your Eye?
Here are the most common causes of feeling like you have something in your eye and how best to treat each scenario.
- Corneal ulcers
- Ocular herpes
- Dry eyes
Chalazia are tiny, painless lumps that form on the eyelid and are mostly the result of blocked oil glands. A chalazion lump can develop along the edge of the eyelid, making you feel as if something is stuck in your eye when you blink.
The lump should clear itself after a few days. Applying a warm compress over the affected eye will help drain it.
If the chalazion doesn’t clear up after a few days, you can visit a doctor who’ll likely prescribe antibiotics. In some extreme cases, you may require surgery to drain the lump.
Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is a condition in which your conjunctiva gets inflamed. Pink eye is common amongst children, although anyone can catch it as it is highly contagious. The inflammation caused by pink eye can leave you feeling like there’s something stuck in your eye.
Common conjunctiva symptoms include itching, redness, a burning sensation, discharge, and excessive watering in the affected eye. Depending on the causative factor, pink eye will get better after a few days.
Applying a cold compress or applying a damp and cool towel over your eyes can help alleviate the symptoms. You can visit a doctor if the condition doesn’t clear up and you’ll be prescribed antibiotics.
Corneal ulcers are open wounds on the cornea and can be caused by viral, fungal and bacterial infections. Blinking will be hard with an open sore, and you will feel as if there is something stuck inside your eye.
Corneal ulcers can present symptoms like blurred vision, white spots on the cornea, discharge and severe pain. Wearing contact lenses increases your chances of developing this condition.
Corneal ulcers require prompt medical intervention as they can permanently damage your eyes and potentially cause blindness. Doctors will likely prescribe antiviral, antifungal or antibacterial eye drops to dilate your pupils and reduce the chance of further complications.
This is a condition where noncancerous growth develops on the conjunctiva. The growth is seen as a yellowish patch, and you are more likely to develop the condition as you age. Common Pinguecula symptoms include general vision complications, dryness, itching, redness and excessive tearing.
Unless the Pinguecula is causing you problems, you do not need to see a doctor. However, there are cases where it can cause discomfort, and your healthcare provider will prescribe relief ointment or eye drops.
On rare occasions, the Pinguecula can grow continually. In that case, you will require a surgical procedure to remove it.
Ocular herpes, or eye herpes, is an eye infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are several types of the condition, majorly depending on the depth of corneal layers affected. The most common type of ocular herpes is epithelial keratitis, which largely affects the cornea.
Common symptoms of eye herpes include discharge, inflammation, redness, eye pain and tearing. If you suspect you could have eye herpes, you should visit your eye specialist as soon as possible. You likely will receive steroid eye drops or antiviral medication.
Eye herpes can have lasting effects on your eyes, including blindness. As such, it is important to seek medical intervention as soon as possible and to follow the recommended treatment plan.
Dryness in the eyes is a problem that happens when tears cannot moisten the surface of your eyes. Whenever you blink, a thin layer of tears is spread throughout the eye, and this helps with a clear vision and general eye healthiness.
When the thin tear film is not spread throughout the eye as you blink, it can result in dry eyes. The dryness can feel like there’s something stuck in your eyes. This condition can be caused by factors like wind, smoke, dry air, seasonal allergies, and some prescription medications.
The best way to deal with dry eyes is using over-the-counter lubricating eye drops.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Your eyes are an integral bit of your daily functioning; you should take proper care of them. Ideally, you should consult a specialist if you have persistent pain in one or both eyes. If the pain gets worse over time, you should not wait as it could be a warning sign. In addition, you should also visit an eye specialist if:
- Your eyes are hurt by light
- Redness develops or worsens in one or both eye
- You display signs of an eye infection, including thick discharge or pus, swelling around the eye, and a fever accompanied by an eye ache.
Essentially, if you feel like this for some time, you can ask your doctor to help you get to the root cause. Protecting your eyes should be of paramount importance.
A Study on Retinal Light Sensitivity of Normal Human Visual Fields. (September 30, 1994). National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Effects of a Warm Compress Containing Menthol on the Tear Film in Healthy Subjects and Dry Eye Patients. (April 5, 2017). National Center for Biotechnology Information.
What Is a Corneal Ulcer (Keratitis)? (January 7, 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
What Is a Pinguecula and a Pterygium (Surfer’s Eye)? (November 22, 2021). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
How Tears Work. (June 16, 2019). National Eye Institute.
Last Updated July 1, 2022
Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.