Why Do My Eyes Feel Sore?

Dr. Russel Lazarus, December 9, 2020

Nearly half of all adults experience sore eyes and up to 33 percent of patients in eye care clinics present with complaints about dry eye.

If you are experiencing any eye discomfort, visit your eye doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

There are many eye conditions that cause sore eyes.

Dry eye syndrome (DES)

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is the most common cause of sore eyes. Healthy tears consist of a combination of oil, mucus and water. When one of these components is missing, or their quality or quantity are reduced, the eyes can become dry, irritated, or sore.

Conjunctivitis (Pink eye)

Conjunctivitis, commonly called pink eye, is a highly contagious infection caused by a virus or bacteria in the eye. Pink eye can affect either one or both eyes, and cause the eyes to burn, itch, or feel sore.


Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids that causes red, sore and itchy eyelids, and is commonly marked by a crusty debris on the eyelash margins. Blepharitis may also cause the eyes to burn or sting, resulting in uncomfortable sore eyes.

There are also environmental factors that cause sore eyes.


Allergens in the air, such as pollen, mold, and pet dander can cause your eyes to become dry, itchy, watery, and sore.

Foreign particle in your eye

When small foreign particles such as dust, dirt, and sand blow into the eye, they can get stuck under your eyelid or the corner of your eye. Not only does this cause pain and discomfort, but it can also cause a significant amount of burning and soreness that may last several minutes.

If you experience eye pain or vision loss, contact an eye doctor near you, who can diagnose and treat the condition.

SEE RELATED: Why Do My Eyes Feel Gritty?

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Certain chemicals found in household cleaning products, such as aerosol sprays and disinfectants can be irritating to your eyes and cause them to burn or feel sore.

Note: It is important to wear eye protection and gloves when using any type of cleaning product to reduce your risk of an eye injury caused by accidental eye contact. Avoid touching your eyes or face until you have washed your hands thoroughly and put the cleaning product away.


Sensitivity to certain fragrances, such as perfume, cologne, skin cream, and even shampoo can cause eye irritation and even temporary sore eyes.

How to relieve sore eyes

Below is a list of some tips and lifestyle changes that could help relieve sore eyes and improve your quality of life.

Note: It is important to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor if you are experiencing significant discomfort. Your eye doctor will carefully diagnose the cause of your discomfort and prescribe an effective treatment plan.

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body healthy and your eyes hydrated.
  • Remove contact lenses. If your eyes are irritated and sore, remove your contact lenses until your eye doctor has instructed that it is safe to begin wearing them again. Contact lenses can further irritate your sore eyes and lead to serious complications if proper care is not taken.
  • Avoid allergens. Stay away from known allergens to reduce eye allergies and discomfort.
  • Wear sunglasses. Protect your eyes with sunglasses whenever possible. Sunglasses will not only provide you with UV protection, but can also reduce the chances of a small foreign particle blowing into your eyes.
  • Remove makeup. Wash off your eye makeup every night before going to bed to eliminate dirt and debris from your eyelids and eyelashes and reduce your chances of developing blepharitis.
  • Clean your eyelids. Clean your eyelids daily with a gentle scrub or baby shampoo to ensure that your eyelid glands remain clear and healthy. This will ensure that your tear film remains healthy and balanced and will reduce your chances of dry eye symptoms.

LEARN MORE:  Guide to Eye Conditions

Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam, and to discuss any questions you may have about treating your sore eyes.

Comfortable eyes will not only improve your vision, but will also enable you to enjoy the activities you love, without the distraction of sore eyes.