When to See a Specialist About Your Eye Irritation

Aug 01, 2023
When to See a Specialist About Your Eye Irritation
Itchy, red, and dry eyes are common occurrences — an all-night study session, a few too many drinks, or a day at the beach can irritate your eyes. So how do you know when to see an eye doctor about the discomfort? Here’s a handy guideline.

Minor eye irritation is no reason to rush to your doctor, but how do you know the difference between a minor irritation and signs of more serious problems? Chances are, if you’re wondering whether to seek medical care for your irritated eyes, you probably should. 

A good rule of thumb is to go with your gut; it’s better to be safe than sorry. Those are clichés for good reason — your body tells you when it needs help, and if you listen and respond, you can fend off serious complications. 

We see all kinds of eye problems at Vision Corner in Houston, Texas, and when we diagnose and treat them early, we can resolve nearly all of them. Dr. Sophia Barnes specializes in eye diseases and eye emergencies, and she’s well-versed in overall eye health. If your eyes are troubling you, she can get to the bottom of it. 

What’s causing your eye irritation?

Irritated eyes due to poor sleep, a hangover, or environmental factors like wind and sun usually clear up with rest and over-the-counter eye drops. But if your irritated eyes keep bothering you for days and home remedies don’t help, it’s time to call Vision Corner. 

Dr. Barnes performs a thorough eye exam and determines the underlying cause. Here are some possible contenders that constitute a trip to the eye doctor:


Houston summers kick up all kinds of irritants that can bother your eyes, and you may even be allergic to some of them. Pollen, mold, dust, and pet dander are common allergens that can cause watery, itchy, red eyes and benefit from the help of a specialist.


You’ve probably heard of pink eye, the common name for conjunctivitis, a contagious eye infection. However, it’s not the only type of eye infection possible; you can develop inflammation, redness, and irritation from multiple viruses, bacteria, and fungi. 


If you have a small, pimple-like growth on your eyelid, you likely have a stye. Dr. Barnes can treat the pus-filled growth and eliminate related pain.

Blocked tear ducts

Your eyes constantly drain fluid through your tear ducts, even when you’re not crying. If something blocks those tiny conduits, your eyes become irritated and painful. Dr. Barnes can clear your tear ducts and get the fluid moving freely again.

Eye strain

Too much screen time on your phone or computer results in digital eye strain that can also lead to headaches and neck pain. You may even have computer vision syndrome. Dr. Barnes can set you up with specialized lenses that maximize blue light protection

Environmental irritants

Smoking doesn’t only affect your lungs; your eyes pay a price, too. Even if you don't smoke, environmental pollution, smog, chemicals, chlorine, and fumes can irritate your eyes. Dr. Barnes may need to flush out harmful substances to prevent permanent damage. 

Contact lenses

Dirty contact lenses are notorious for causing eye irritation and can sometimes lead to infection. Or you may develop a corneal ulcer, an infected sore on your cornea that can lead to vision loss.

Foreign objects

An occasional eyelash that falls off, lands on your eye, and gets wedged under the eyelid hurts like crazy until you flush it out with water or tears, but the effects are temporary. However, if you get sand, dirt, or other debris in your eye, the consequences can be more severe: a scratched cornea, infection, and even vision loss.

Medical conditions

Irritated eyes can also be symptoms of underlying medical conditions, such as:

Dr. Barnes can help you manage your eye symptoms to complement your primary care physician’s treatment plan.

If you have irritated, itchy, red eyes, rinse them gently with water, try an OTC antihistamine, and use nonmedicated eye drops. If your symptoms don’t improve after two days, go with your gut and call Vision Corner to schedule an appointment with Dr. Barnes or book online — better safe than sorry.