There probably isn’t a person on this island who doesn’t occasionally rub his or her eyes (or on the planet, really!). This is something we do instinctively form the time we are young children. Because of this, rubbing is something we may do without giving it a second thought. Especially because doing so can make us feel better.
We rub for a number of reasons. Some people do so when their eyes feel tired after a long day, or when they are dry upon waking in the morning. We may rub our eyes if they are itchy or even if they are feeling uncomfortable due to a headache. When we rub them, we prompt tear ducts to lubricate the eyes’ surface, which alleviates discomfort and irritation. An additional effect of rubbing the eyes is stress relief. Really! This is because pressure on the eyes stimulates the vagus nerve which, in turn, slows the heart.
But Wait, there’s More!
We rub our eyes and they feel better, so why would we want to avoid this habit? Here are a few good reasons:
- You touch your eyes with your hands, and your hands have bacteria. We inadvertently pick up bacteria from the various objects we touch throughout the day. According to studies, our cell phones alone have 18 times the amount of bacteria than the average public restroom. And we touch our eyes with those hands! Clearly, this is an infection risk.
- Dark circles and wrinkles are problems that we may struggle with even if we don’t rub our eyes, but why make the issue more probable? The skin around the eyes is ultra-thin. The slightest pulling from an eye-rub increases the potential for wrinkles. Beneath the skin, there are tiny blood vessels that may be damaged or broken by rubbing, creating dark circles and the appearance of poor health or age.
- Eye damage could stem from excessive, aggressive rubbing. The structures near the front of the eye, such as the cornea, may be torn from too much force or pressure. It is also possible to damage the retina, at the back of the eye, causing this structure to detach.
Aloha Eye Clinic supports families of Maui with personal eye care. Contact us in Kihei or Wailuku.