Your eyes are sensitive to the point of detecting even the tiniest of changes. For example, if something small enters the eye, you are likely to feel a certain level of discomfort until it gets removed.
But there are instances when you can feel as if there is something in the eye for a long time, even when there’s no evidence of it.
Why is that? Are there conditions and factors that can lead to this sensation? More importantly, what can you do, and when should you consult a doctor?
Is There Something in Your Eye?
The feeling of a foreign substance in your eye can be infuriating. Sometimes the feeling goes away on its own. If it persists, you may be forced to scratch and itch your eyes, which could prove more painful if the feeling does not end.
It is important to know that your eyes are one of the vital body senses. If you have this feeling, you can have someone check to see if you have a foreign body in your eye.
If you cannot 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?
The most common causes of feeling like you have something in your eye (and how to treat them) are:
- Corneal ulcers
- Ocular herpes
- Dry eyes
Chalazia are tiny and 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 like there’s something stuck in your eye whenever you blink.
The lump should clear itself after a few days. Applying a warm compress over the affected eye will help drain the lump. 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 grows inflamed. Inflammation caused by pink eye can leave you feeling like there’s something stuck in your eye.
Pink eye is common among children, although anyone can catch it because it can be highly contagious.
Common 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 because they can damage your eyes permanently — potentially cause blindness.
Doctors most likely will prescribe antiviral, antifungal or antibacterial eye drops to dilate your pupils and reduce the chance of further complications.
Pinguecula is a condition where noncancerous growth develops on the conjunctiva. The growth presents 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.
The good news: unless the Pinguecula causes pain or aggravating discomfort, you do not need to see a doctor. But there are cases where it hurts, your healthcare provider will prescribe relief ointment or eye drops.
On rare occasions, the Pinguecula can continually grow, and you’ll require to undergo 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.
Symptoms of eye herpes include discharge, inflammation, redness, eye pain and watery eyes. If you suspect you have eye herpes, 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. It is important to seek medical intervention as soon as possible and to follow the recommended treatment plan.
Dryness in the eyes is a common 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 to dry eyes. The dryness can feel like there is something stuck in your eyes.
Causes of dry eyes include environmental factors such as 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?
In some cases, you feel as if there has been something in your eye for a while and none of the remedies recommended above work, seek professional intervention.
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.
What Is a Corneal Ulcer (Keratitis)? (January 2022) American Academy of Ophthalmology.
What Is a Pinguecula and a Pterygium (Surfer’s Eye)? (November 2021) American Academy of Ophthalmology.
How Tears Work. (June 2019) National Eye Institute.
Effects of a Warm Compress Containing Menthol on the Tear Film in Healthy Subjects and Dry Eye Patients. (April 2017). National Center for Biotechnology Information.
A Study on Retinal Light Sensitivity of Normal Human Visual Fields. (September 1994). National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Last Updated June 8, 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.