What It Really Means When It Feels Like Something Is In Your Eye

Most people know the sensation of feeling like there's something in their eye. It can be accompanied by irritation, tearing, and sharp pain (via Healthline). The sensation is often caused by a foreign particle like an eyelash or dust on the surface of the eye, but you may get this feeling even if nothing is there. In fact, there are a number of conditions that may cause you to feel like there's something in your eye.

One common reason is dryness, which occurs when your eyes are not kept moist enough by your tears. It can lead to stinging, burning, itchiness, and pain. Sometimes an infection is to blame. These include bacterial infections like conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye), viral infections like ocular herpes, and fungal infections like fungal keratitis. The sensation can also be brought on by styes, chalazia (tiny, painless lumps on the eyelid), corneal ulcers or injuries, or a growth on the eye (via Medical News Today).

How to find relief

If there is a foreign object in your eye like dust or an eyelash, don't rub your eye (via Mayo Clinic). Instead, wash your hands and try to flush the object out with a gentle stream of warm water. Remove contact lenses before irrigating the eye. Sometimes, the foreign object causing the sensation may be stuck to the lens.

Dry eyes can be treated with over-the-counter lubricating eye drops. Minimizing time spent in front of screens may also help. However, if an infection is the culprit, medication may be needed. Common treatments might include antifungal medication for fungal keratitis or antibiotics for pink eye. These can be prescribed to you by a doctor. 

Warm compresses can help with conditions like styes or chalazia, both of which typically clear up on their own. Minor corneal injuries also usually heal on their own but more severe cases need immediate treatment. Similarly, corneal ulcers, or open sores on the cornea, also require medical treatment right away, as these can result in permanent damage, including blindness. Your doctor may offer prescription-strength eye drops to treat corneal ulcers.