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Glassy Eyes: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Glazed, shiny or glassy eyes are common occurrences that do not usually warrant concern. On rare occasions, they can be a sign of a bigger problem. When that occurs, treatment depends on what caused the glassy eyes.

What Are Glassy Eyes?

Glassy eye is a phrase used to describe eyes that seem to be overly glazed or too shiny. Eyes can also seem glass-like and lack focus, expression and warmth. 

Causes include lifestyle choices or deeper underlying medical conditions. Glassy eyes usually do not cause concerns, but you should visit your doctor if you are in pain or have other eye conditions. 

Diagnosis/Symptoms

The main symptoms of glassy eyes are:

  • Slight sensitivity in your eyes
  • Itchiness in your eyes
  • Pain
  • Watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Headaches

Causes

The primary causes of glassy eyes include:

  • Dry Eyes
  • Allergies
  • Dehydration
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Graves’ Disease
  • Herpes 
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Intoxication
  • Cholera 
  • Certain types of medication 

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes occur when a someone’s eyes cannot make enough moisture or tears to keep the eyes wet. That can cause irritation when the eyelids make upward and downward movements and may lead to other vision issues. 

Allergies

If you are prone to or allergic to something, it can result in glassy eyes. Eyes appear reddish or glassy and even become irritated and itchy. Some common causes of allergies are dust, pollen, pets, and some products. 

Dehydration

When you note glass eyes in children, it could signify dehydration. Other symptoms that might accompany glassy eyes are thirst, dry mouth, and lightheadedness. If your child displays these symptoms, give them water and take them to see a doctor if they persist. 

Hypoglycemia

The onset of hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, can cause glass eyes as one of the symptoms.

If you have diabetes and experience these symptoms, you should raise your sugar levels immediately by drinking a glass of juice or eating a candy bar. But if symptoms persist or you experience them regular and you do not have diabetes, schedule a visit to your doctor.   

Graves’ Disease

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition that leads to an overproduction of thyroid hormones, which can cause the eyelid to retract. It can cause the eyes to dry up, making for a glassy appearance and looking larger than usual. 

Herpes 

You contract herpes through sexual intimacy, and it can affect the eyes. The variant that causes glassy eyes is simplex virus type 1, also referred to as a cold sore on the eye. It causes inflammation of the eyelid and can lead to the discoloration of the cornea. 

Conjunctivitis

Also referred to as pink eye, conjunctivitis is a contagious bacterial, fungal or viral disease. An infected patient’s eyes turn reddish and glassy. If you suspect an infection, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Intoxication

After consuming alcohol or drugs, they affect the central nervous system. That affects your responses, such as slowing down your blinking rate. When blinking slows down, it leads to dry eyes, hence glassy eyes. 

Cholera

This condition, which mostly affects infants, may cause severe dehydration, which leads to glassy eyes.

Some Types of Medication

Certain prescription drugs will cause intoxication, decrease blinking and cause dry eyes, leading to glassy eyes.

Treatment

Glassy eyes are not much of a health concern when they occur. Even when it precedes a condition, it is easily treatable and doesn’t pose a significant threat to your vision. The best way to treat or manage glassy eyes is:

  • Medication: After visiting your doctor, they will diagnose your condition and prescribe the right medicine. 
  • Drink water: When you have glassy eyes, it is a sign you are dehydrated. Taking water will clear them out in no time. 
  • Blink: Not blinking for a long time can cause your eyes to dry out. Blinking a few times will reintroduce moisture to your cornea and clear them out. In addition, regular blinking will ensure your eyes do not dry out.

Prevention and Keeping Eyes Healthy

  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. Avoiding substances will clear your eyes and help you avoid a glassy appearance. 
  • Drink copious amounts of water. Dehydration is a significant cause of glassy eyes. Drinking water throughout the day will prevent dehydration and help your eyes not to dry out. 
  • Make regular eye doctor visits. Visit your eye doctor at least once a year. You may catch conditions that cause glassy eyes early and halt their progress.
  • Limit screen time. Minimize time spent peering at screens such as your smartphones, tablets, or monitors. Rest your eyes after every 15 minutes of spending two hours staring at the monitor. Additionally, rest your eyes on an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Wash your hands and don’t share. Wash your hands before your hands contact your face. Don’t share anything that comes close to your eyes, such as towels, contact lenses, or sunglasses.

References

  1. Dry eyes. (April 2022). National Eye Institute.

  2. Graves’ disease. (November 2021). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

  3. Alcohol and Drug Effects. University of Colorado, Boulder.

  4. Dehydration. University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester.

Last Updated July 6, 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.