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Why Are My Eyes Burning?

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The brief burning sensation you may feel in your eyes is commonly due to a minor irritation that disappears once your tears wash it out. However, if the burning sensation persists after you have washed out your eyes, it may indicate a more serious problem. Find out what could be causing the burning sensation in your eyes, and how to get relief.

What Eye Conditions Cause Burning Eyes?

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is the leading cause of burning in the eyes. Healthy tears consist of a balance of oil, mucus, and water. When these three components aren’t properly balanced, the eyes become dry and irritated— which can result in a burning sensation.

Pink Eye

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation of the conjunctiva (the membrane that lines your eyelid and covers the white part of your eye), usually caused by a highly contagious viral or bacterial infection that can affect either one or both eyes. The symptoms include watery, burning or itchy eyes.


Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids that causes sore, red eyelids, and crusty debris at the base of the eyelashes. Symptoms include a burning or stinging sensation in the eyes, grittiness, and itchy eyelids.

What Environmental Factors Cause Burning Eyes?

Environmental irritants that can cause a burning sensation in the eyes include perfumes, smoke, and tiny particles that get stuck in your eyes.

Allergens - Allergens in the air or in your home, such as pollen, pet dander and mold, can cause your eyes to itch, tear up, and burn.

Fragrances - People who are sensitive to fragrances emanating from perfume, cologne, shampoo, or skin cream can experience eye irritation, resulting in a burning sensation.

How Can I Treat or Alleviate Burning Eyes?

If you feel a burning sensation in your eyes, talk to your eye doctor as soon as possible, as it could be an emergency. If left untreated it could lead to permanent eye damage and loss of vision.

If you have foreign particles in your eyes, the eye doctor will be able to carefully remove and provide the appropriate treatment.

If you are diagnosed with dry eye, your eye doctor may recommend medicated eye drops or artificial tears to alleviate the burning sensation and ensure that your eyes remain moisturized all day long. In more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe steroid drops for quick, short-term relief.

Many eye doctors can provide specific in-office treatments to successfully treat the underlying cause of dry eye.

If your eye doctor determines that you have pink eye or blepharitis, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops may be prescribed. These drops can provide major relief as they target the source of the problem quickly and effectively.

If allergies are the culprit, we can help with that, too. Antihistamines and decongestants can alleviate your symptoms and minimize or even eliminate the burning sensation.

The only way to diagnose and treat burning eyes is by visiting your eye doctor. If you feel a persistent burning sensation in your eyes, talk to Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.

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