ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have watery, itchy eyes?

Question

Why do I have watery, itchy eyes?

I have had a cold for 3 days already, since the beginning my eyes itched and watered. At first I just thought I had an allergy. If I slightly scratched and eye they would turn red and it itched more and when I forgot about it the itchiness went away and the redness disappeared as well. This happened for both eyes. I seem to be getting better, but if I scratch my eyes they still itch. I've taken allergy pills for itchy eyes and I think it sort of numbed it, but I'm not sure if its just in my head. Do I have an infection or is it just allergies?

Answer

I recommend you discuss this issue with your doctor. If your itchy eyes are related to a cold, then it is usually something that will resolve with time. What most people don't realize is that pink eye, the common infection that kids get and spread so easily, is just another variant of many of the common upper respiratory tract infections that we commonly get. Because of the intimate connection between the nose, the throat, and the eyes (they all share common drainage pathways), and an infection in one part can spread rapidly to the others. If your eyes have been itching during a cold, they should start to do better as the cold resolves. You can help them by keeping them well hydrated (such as with drops) until they start to do better. If they are painful, then it is a good idea to see a doctor. This is especially true if your vision ever changes for the worse, as this could be something that needs to be seen immediately. Small scratches on your eyes can come from itching too aggressively, and so you need to be careful with that. If your problem persists, please speak to your doctor. And in the meantime, please wash your hands regularly.

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