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Eye Care Guide for Sensitive Eyes: Products, What to Do & What Not to Do (Guide)

Sensitive eyes can be a pain. And for people with sensitive eyes, finding a solution that works can be challenging.

In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about eye care for sensitive eyes — from products to use and ones to avoid, as well as what you should do and what not to do.

Symptoms of Sensitive Eyes

The symptoms of sensitive eyes can appear at any age and affect both men and women equally. It is not unusual for people to develop sensitive eyes after having an eye injury or surgery on their eyes. Patients who have experienced these problems usually have to deal with more than one symptom during their recovery period.

Here are the common symptoms of sensitive eyes you should look out for:

  • Itchiness: A common symptom associated with sensitive eye conditions is itching around your eyelids or behind them, which typically occurs during winter months when temperatures outside fall below freezing point levels.
  • Watery eyes: Watery eyes might be a result of irritation and allergies, so if you notice your eyes watering often, it may be time to visit your ophthalmologist.
  • Redness in the white of your eyes: Redness in the white of your eyes is often caused by irritation and allergies, but it can also indicate an infection or injury to your eye. If you notice redness in the white of your eyes, you should see an ophthalmologist immediately.
  • Sensitivity to light: If you find yourself squinting when you look at light sources or sunlight, it could be due to sensitivity to light. This symptom can also be caused by dry eyes or corneal abrasions (which are even more serious).

When left untreated, sensitive eyes can lead to serious vision loss. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor as soon as possible.

Causes of Sensitive Eyes

Sensitive eyes are common, and they can be caused by several reasons. However, most people who have sensitive eyes do not know the underlying cause. It is important to find out what is causing your symptoms, so you can get relief.

Here are the most common causes of sensitive eyes:

  • Dry eyes: The dry air in winter can cause dry eyes and make them more sensitive to light. The hot, humid air in summer can also cause dry eyes and make them more sensitive.
  • Allergies: Dust, pollen, and other substances can trigger allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes.
  • Wearing contact lenses: People who wear contact lenses often find their eyes are more sensitive than those of people who don’t wear contacts.
  • Medications: Some medications can cause dry eye, which makes your eyes more sensitive to light and irritants. These include antihistamines, antidepressants, beta-blockers, and birth control pills.
  • Astigmatism: This is a condition in which the curvature of your eye lens is irregular. This can cause blurred vision and cornea irritation, making your eyes sensitive to light and other irritants. 
  • Computer vision syndrome: This is a set of problems that result from spending too much time arched over your computer and other digital screens. Symptoms include headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, dry eyes, and more. 
  • Age: Aging can cause changes in the shape of your eyes over time, as well as changes in the lenses inside your eyes. These changes can make it more difficult for you to focus when looking at objects close up or far away from you.

Sensitive eyes are a common problem for many people. If you’re experiencing sensitivity to light, it’s important to take steps to treat or prevent the issue from worsening.

Triggers of Sensitive Eyes 

When your eyes are sensitive, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause or triggers of your condition. Often, it’s a combination of factors that leads to dry, irritated eyes. But the best way to avoid problems is to know your triggers.

Here are the common triggers of sensitive eyes:

  • Stress: Stress is a major trigger of sensitive eyes. When you’re stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol, which causes your eyes to become dry and irritated.
  • Dehydration: Dehydration is another common cause of sensitivity-inducing ocular discomfort. The less water you drink, the more likely it is that your eyes will become dry, red, and irritated.
  • Cigarette smoke: Cigarette smoke can irritate your eyes, so if you smoke or hang around people who do, it could cause discomfort without you even realizing it.
  • Pollution: Pollution is a major factor in triggering sensitivity in your eyes. If you live somewhere with a lot of smog or other air pollutants, this can irritate your eyes and lead to sensitivity problems over time.
  • Cold wind: The wind can cause the eyes to become irritated, red, and watery. This is because it is drying and dehydrating. It can also cause your eyes to feel dry and scratchy.

General Tips for Caring for Sensitive Eyes

Many people experience the discomfort of sensitive eyes at some point in their lives. While there is no cure for sensitive eyes, you can take steps to manage the symptoms.

 Here are some tips for dealing with sensitive eyes:

1. Avoid Direct Exposure to the Sun

Avoiding direct sun exposure can prevent your eyes from becoming more sensitive. Additionally, wearing polarized or UV-protected sunglasses is crucial to saving your delicate eyes from damaging ultraviolet rays. Every time you are exposed to the sun, remember to wear sunglasses.

2. Practice Good Hygiene

Maintaining good eye cleanliness is crucial to reduce infection risk and to enhance your overall eye health. Always wash your hands before touching your eyes, take off your makeup before bed, and regularly wash your cosmetic brushes. Towels used to clean the region around your eyes should also be washed regularly.

3. Get Enough Rest

Just like you need adequate sleep for your general health, the same applies to your eyes. Eye tiredness can result from eye fatigue and insomnia. Lack of sleep can lead to wrinkles, dark under-eye circles, and even more sensitive eyes.

4. Reduce Exposure to Bright Lights

If you’re sitting in front of a computer screen or television all day, be mindful not to overexpose yourself to bright light sources, such as these, too much. Also, consider using an anti-glare filter on your monitor if it’s necessary for work purposes. Your eyes will thank you for it.

5. Keep Your Eyes Hydrated

Some people with sensitive eyes experience dryness in the corners of their eyes or on their eyelids. A good option is natural tear ointments or artificial tears, found at most drugstores. If these don’t help enough, talk with your doctor about prescription eye drops that provide more relief for dryness.

6. Eat a Healthy Diet

Good eating habits can help shield your eyes against various eye issues. Include nutritious foods and dietary supplements in your diet that are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc. Carrots, salmon, eggs, almonds, milk, yogurt, and dairy products are some of the best foods for your eyes.

Additionally, consume a lot of water to keep your skin hydrated.

7. See a Doctor When Needed

If you experience discomfort or pain in your eyes, the best thing to do is consult with a doctor as soon as possible. While the tips listed above may temporarily relieve the symptoms, they are not a substitute for proper medical attention. Regular eye exams should be part of your annual health schedule.

Makeup Tips for Sensitive Eyes

It’s not just the eyes that are sensitive on your face. It’s also the skin around them. That’s why it’s so important to choose makeup products that are less likely to irritate your skin or eyes. 

Here are some tips for finding makeup that’s gentle to your eyes:

  • Know your ingredients. The best way to avoid irritating your eyes is to stay away from ingredients that are known irritants. Look for products with no sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, or fragrance. Avoid rubbing your eyes as much as possible.
  • Try hypoallergenic makeup. If you’re having trouble finding a product that works for you, consider switching to hypoallergenic makeup. This type of makeup is less likely to irritate your eyes and contains no harsh chemicals like those listed above. You can even find hypoallergenic eyeliners and mascaras.
  • Avoid using eyeliner on your waterline. You should never put eyeliner directly on your waterline. Try taking all precautions to keep any substance out of your delicate eyes because doing so will only cause irritability, watering, and redness.
  • Don’t apply moisturizer to your eyelids. Applying moisturizer after cleansing your skin in the morning and evening is a must, but keep the product away from your eyelids. These products may travel and end up in your eyes, causing redness, inflammation, itching, and watery eyes. Apply your moisturizer, including eye cream, around the orbital bone instead.
  • Remove eye makeup with a gentle cleanser every night. Wash your face every night, and be careful around the eye area to keep eye makeup out of your eyes. Choose a mild cleanser that removes even the most tenacious eye makeup, such as waterproof eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara. Ideally, choose one that is designed for sensitive skin, so it is free of scents and other irritants.
  • Try non-tug eyeliner and eyeshadow. There are few things worse than using eyeliner or eyeshadow that scrapes against your sensitive eyelid when applying makeup. Many available formulas will glide on easily, so your eyes aren’t irritated.
  • Avoid using anything around your eyes. If it’s not meant for use near your eyes (like mascara), don’t put it on right next to them either, even if it’s a high-quality brand.

Best Eye Creams for Sensitive Eyes

When it comes to your skin and eyes, you want to ensure that you’re using the best products. But sometimes, that can be hard when your skin is sensitive.

Luckily, there are a few products on the market that can help you out. Here are our top picks for the best eye creams for sensitive eyes:

  • RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream: This is a non-greasy formula that helps fight the early signs of aging around the eye area. This cream formula smooths over the skin’s surface to help reduce darkness under the eyes, lines, and wrinkles for a visibly brighter look. This costs about $27 on Amazon.
  • E.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration: This is a budget-friendly pick that calms with cucumber extract, plumps with peptides, and delivers a gentle dose of moisture. It costs about $13 on their site.
  • Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream: This orange eye cream from Clinique is a real and figurative bright start to the day. You’ll like the cooling, soothing sensation of the cream. Though the cream is packed with substances to aid with dark circles in the morning, it works well for people with sensitive eyes. It costs about $31 on Clinique’s site.
  • Cocokind Revitalizing Eye Cream: Ideal for sensitive eyes, the applicator stays cold for this unique cream. Since sensitive eyes can feel warm and be inflamed, this calming and cooling application tip can provide relief. Additionally, the formula is creamy and moisturizing, relieving dryness for people with sensitive eye areas. This costs $19 on their site.

Best Mascara for Sensitive Eyes

For people with sensitive eyes, it can be difficult to find a mascara that doesn’t irritate them.
Here is a list of the top mascaras for sensitive eyes:

  • Covergirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara: This brush-on Covergirl mascara is made to coat each lash evenly without leaving clumps behind, giving your lashes a fuller appearance and more volume. Thanks to the phenoxyethanol that has been added, your mascara will stay in place even if your eyes start to water, and the vitamin E in the formula should give you smear-proof, conditioned lashes.
  • Alima Pure Natural Definition Mascara: This mascara has a lovely application. More than 90 percent of its contents are natural or obtained from natural sources. It contains vitamin B5 as well as natural oils and waxes to condition your lashes.
  • Chanel Le Volume de Chanel Mascara: This mascara gives your lashes a luxurious appearance, and it works well for sensitive eyes. It contains natural beeswax that instantly adds volume without causing eye irritation.
  • Kjaer Weis Mascara: The Kjaer Weis Mascara has 99.8 percent agriculturally derived ingredients that are safe for sensitive eyes because they come from organic sources. The mascara costs more than other brands, but once you’ve used up your first tube, they provide a refill at a lesser cost.
  • Maybelline Great Lash Mascara: This timeless classic is hypoallergenic. People who wear contact lenses say it works well for them.

Best Eyeliners for Sensitive Eyes

People with sensitive eyes can be allergic or react negatively to certain ingredients in makeup. If this happens, you might find that some eyeliners cause your eyes to burn or itch, but there are many options out there designed for sensitive eyes.

Here are some of the best eyeliners for people with sensitive eyes and skin:

When it comes to creams and makeup for sensitive eyes, there is a certain amount of trial and error involved. What works well for another person with eye sensitivity might not work as well for you, so be prepared to try a few products before you find the best fit for your sensitive eye area.

While there is no quick-fix solution for eye sensitivity, if you employ a few practices to decrease eye sensitivity and avoid products and actions that further irritate your eyes, you can best manage the situation.

References

  1. Light Sensitivity and Chronic Dry Eye. (March 2021). Chronic Dry Eye.

  2. Medications and Other Agents That Increase Sensitivity to Light. (December 2015). Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

  3. Conjunctivitis. (April 2021). NHS Inform.

  4. What Is Dry Eye, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment? (July 2022). American Academy Of Ophthalmology.

  5. Computer Vision Syndrome. American Optometric Association.

  6. UV Protection Sunglasses vs Polarised Sunglasses. ( January 2019). Travel. Earth.

  7. Physiology, Cortisol (August 2022). StatPearls.

  8. Association of Sensitive Eyes with Sensitive Skin: A Worldwide Study of 10,743 Subjects. (January 2022). Skin Pharmacology and Physiology.

  9. The Prevalence of Sensitive Skin. (May 2019). Frontiers in Medicine.

  10. Association of Sensitive Skin With Sensitive Corneas and Sensitive Eyelids. (March 2019). Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

  11. Brief Analysis of Causes of Sensitive Skin and Advances in Evaluation of Anti-Allergic Activity of Cosmetic Products. (October 2015). International Journal of Cosmetic Science.

Last Updated December 20, 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.

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