Gritty Eyes: An All-Inclusive Guide on its Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

A man suffering from gritty eyes rubbing his eyes

  Last Updated on January 17, 2023 by Aaron Barriga

Do you often get the feeling of a flack of sand stuck in your eyes? This irritating condition is known as gritty eyes. Generally, you face these additional gritty eyes symptoms as well:-

  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Burning eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Itchy eyes

Anyone can feel a gritty sensation in the eyes once in a while. However, you need to be alert if this scratchy and rough sensation doesn’t disappear over time. It can mean that you might have an underlying eye disease such as dry eye syndrome, corneal abrasion, sunburned eyes, etc.

This article talks about both prevention and treatment for gritty eyes. But let’s start with the gritty eyes causes.

Potential Causes of Gritty Eyes

Only an eye doctor can explain the factor responsible for your individual condition. However, the following are the most commonly found gritty eyes causes in patients:-

  • Dry Eye Syndrome 

Your tears are made up of a perfect balance of oil, mucus, and water. When this composition gets disturbed, the quality of your tears decreases, causing your eyes to get dry and itchy. Sometimes, your eyes can get overly watery. This uncomfortable condition is known as dry eye syndrome. 

  • Blepharitis 

Your eyelids become inflamed, and your eyes feel sore and gritty if you have blepharitis. It’s a pretty common eye condition that can be treated with steroids and antibiotics. Sometimes you may also face swollen red eyes and crusting on your eyelashes. 

  • Corneal Abrasion

The transparent layer that covers your iris and pupil is your cornea. You get corneal abrasion when this layer gets scratched. It generally happens through make-up brushes and fingernails. You may witness watery eyes with pain and redness in them. Blurry vision and light sensitivity are also signs of corneal abrasion.

  • Pinguecula and Pterygium 

There can be redness and swelling in the conjunctiva, gritty eyes, yellow bump in the white area of the eyes, and blurry vision if you have pinguecula and pterygium. It happens when your eyes get exposed to dust, wind, and UV rays simultaneously. These growths originate from the conjunctiva and eventually grow over the cornea.

  • Vitamin A Deficiency 

Your tears are produced with the help of vitamin A. So it’s natural that dry, itchy, and gritty eyes are often caused by vitamin A deficiency. A vitamin-rich diet helps a lot in keeping your eyes healthy. Start eating eggs, spinach, carrot, broccoli, and other food rich in vitamin A.

  • Photokeratitis 

If you don’t understand why you suddenly wake up with gritty eyes, ultraviolet (UV) rays may be the reason. The eye’s exposure to UV rays causes photokeratitis. It can cause blurry vision, pain, light sensitivity, redness, headache, the appearance of a light halo, small pupils, etc.

You can get photokeratitis by directly looking at the sun, solar eclipse, and a welding torch. Other reasons for getting photokeratitis include catching the sun’s reflection from snow, sand, or water and getting into sun-beds.

  • Conjunctivitis 

Conjunctivitis is also known as pink eye because of the redness it creates in your eyes. Conjunctivitis infection can be a viral, bacterial, or allergic reaction. Apart from gritty eyes, conjunctivitis is often accompanied by puffy eyelids, watery eyes, blurry vision, and other irritating symptoms.

  • Thyroid Disease

Red, watery, itchy, and gritty eyes are often the symptoms of the thyroid not functioning correctly in your body. Thyroid disorder also poses symptoms like bulging eyes and double vision. Eye drops and ointments are generally enough to treat these symptoms. However, surgery can be required in the case of bulging eyes. 

  • Sunburned Eyes 

If you can relate to none of the gritty eye causes mentioned here but still got the condition, it can be because of sunburn. Yes! Your eyes also get sunburned like your skin. If the white part of the eye appears red and you witness light sensitivity, your eyes are probably sunburned.

 Gritty Eyes Treatment

The treatment for your gritty eyes will depend upon the symptoms and causes. Your GP may advise you on one of the following approaches while doing your treatment.

  • Medical Treatment for Gritty Eyes

The medical treatments for treating the gritty sensation in the eyes include eye drops, contact lenses, prescription drugs, light therapy, punctual occlusion, etc. Your eye doctor will prescribe treatment in line with your additional underlying eye conditions.

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) Solutions for Gritty Eyes

Warm compress, omega-3 supplements, humidifier, OTC eye drops work well for mild symptoms. These OTC treatments are easily excisable to all, so you should start one of these as soon as you begin to feel the gritty eyes symptoms. If things don’t get better in a couple of days, contact your eye doctor at the earliest.

Prevention of Gritty Eyes

You can prevent this annoying syndrome by doing the following:-

  • Keep your computer screen at eye level so that your eyes can open properly.
  • Avoid smoking as it is the primary cause of dry eye syndrome.
  • Give short relaxing breaks to the eyes while doing work on screen or reading.
  • Wear protective sunglasses or eyewear.
  • Avoid exposure of eyes to the wind.

Contact an Eye Doctor

Gritty eyes disorder is perfectly curable. Therefore if you feel the gritty sensation in your eyes for a few days, you shouldn’t wait to contact your eye doctor. You can try the OTC solutions in the meanwhile. But only an ophthalmologist or optometrist can conduct a detailed eye exam, detect the cause of gritty eyes, and prescribe a suitable treatment.


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