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9 Common Causes of Gritty Eyes and What Can Be Done To Treat Them

About Gritty Eyes:

The eyes are an extremely important and sensitive part of the human body. They are so sensitive that even slight irritation can cause plenty of discomfort for a person and interfere with the daily life. Among all the complaints that a person may have about the eyes, one is Gritty Eyes. It is a feeling as if some foreign body has infiltrated the eyes when that is not the case. The eyes tend to feel very dry and itchy. There is profound irritation and a constant urge to rub the eyes to remove the debris or sand in the eyes. Some people also complain of photophobia due to Gritty Eyes.[1,2,3]

There are numerous causes as to why a person feels that he or she has Gritty Eyes. Along with a foreign body sensation, the person may also have noticeable irritation and pain in the eyes and they even become watery.[1,2,3] This article highlights some of the possible causes for Gritty Eyes and what can be done to treat them.

9 Common Causes of Gritty Eyes

9 Common Causes of Gritty Eyes

There are numerous conditions that may cause a person to have Gritty Eyes. These include

  1. Dry Eyes: This is one of the most common causes of Gritty Eyes. A person is said to have dry eyes if not enough tears are produced by it. In addition to gritty eyes, dry eyes may also cause a burning sensation, vision disturbance, redness of eyes, watery eyes and irritation. If a person wears contact lenses then he or she may have pain while wearing them due to dry eyes.[3]
  2. Blepharitis: This is also quite a common cause for gritty eyes. Blepharitis occurs when the eyelids get inflamed. It is seen mostly in people who have dandruff, oily skin, or rosacea. Along with gritty eyes, a person with blepharitis will also experience itchy eyes, burning, sensitivity to light, redness of the eyes, and swelling of the eyelids. The vision may also get distorted due to the inflammation. Some people also complain of the eyelashes falling down as a result of blepharitis.[3]
  3. Sjögren Syndrome: This is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system of the body attacks the healthy tissues. Sjogren Syndrome sometimes can cause damage to the glands that lubricate the eyes. This may result in dry and gritty eyes. Other ophthalmologic symptoms of Sjogren Syndrome include burning and stinging sensation, blurred vision, inflammation of the eyelids, and sensitivity to light.[3]
  4. Stye: This is also quite a common cause for Gritty Eyes. Stye is a small lump that develops at the base of the eyelashes or the eyelid. The primary cause for stye is bacterial infection. Other symptoms that can be seen with stye include swollen eyelids and water eyes.[3]
  5. Meibomian Gland Dysfunction: The meibomian glands are small oil glands that are located at the circumference of the eyelids. These glands lubricate the eyes by producing tears. If these glands get clogged by debris it can result in severe eye irritation. Other symptoms of meibomian gland dysfunction include itching sensation in the eyes, dry eyes, burning, eyes becoming crusty or sticky, redness, and light sensitivity. The vision may also get distorted.[3]
  6. Conjunctivitis: This is a condition that causes inflammation of the conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis are of three types namely allergic, bacteria, and viral. Other symptoms of conjunctivitis along with Gritty Eyes include redness of the eyes, burning, itching sensation, pain, and blurred vision. The person also will have sensitivity to light and the eyes will become sticky.[3]
  7. Corneal Abrasion: This also is one of the prime causes of Gritty Eyes. Corneal abrasion occurs as a result of a scratch or scrape on the surface of the cornea. It usually happens while rubbing the eyes and the nails scratching the cornea. Other symptoms of corneal abrasion include pain in the yes along with redness, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light.[3]
  8. Corneal Laceration: A deep corneal abrasion can be called asa corneal laceration that causes Gritty Eyes. This is usually caused as a result of an injury to the cornea when something hits hard on the eyes as seen during boxing matches. It is important for people with corneal laceration to seek immediate medical attention to treat the condition as the symptoms can be very uncomfortable. Aside from gritty eyes, corneal laceration also causes severe pain in the eyes along with tearing, and light sensitivity. Sometimes, there may also be bleeding noted from the eyes.[3]
  9. Corneal Ulcer: Medically termed as keratitis, corneal ulcer is a condition where a sore develops on the cornea. It is usually caused due to an eye infection. Aside from gritty eyes, corneal ulcer can cause redness, severe pain, pus from the eyes, light sensitivity, and blurred vision.[3]

What Can Be Done To Treat Gritty Eyes?

What Can Be Done To Treat Gritty Eyes?

The treatment for gritty eyes depends on what is causing it. A persistent foreign body sensation in the eyes requires a trip to the ophthalmologist or optometrist to get to the bottom of the cause and start treatment for it. The treatment may include use of eyedrops to treat dry eyes and lubricate them. For dry eyes, the physician may also prescribe artificial tears.[3]

Antibiotic eyedrops may be given for cases of infection causing gritty eyes. Warm compresses are also quite beneficial in treating gritty eyes. If wearing contact lenses aggravate the symptoms, then it is better to avoid wearing them for a few days till the gritty eyes clear up. There are however certain conditions that require surgery to treat the cause of gritty eyes.[3]

An ophthalmologist will be the best person to recommend a treatment option depending on the underlying cause of gritty eyes. In cases of corneal ulcer or laceration, immediate medical attention should be given as it may cause blindness if proper treatment is not given.[3]

In conclusion, Gritty Eyes is a sensation that a person has in which he or she feels that there is a foreign body in the eyes causing discomfort and pain while there is none. There are a variety of causes for gritty Eyes of which dry eyes, corneal abrasion, and infections are most common as has been detailed above. There are some causes of Gritty Eyes such as corneal laceration and ulcer that require immediate medical attention since they have a potential to cause blindness of not treated timely.[1,2,3]

It is best to consult with an ophthalmologist to identify a cause for gritty Eyes and start treatment for it. For causes like dry eyes or corneal abrasion, the patient will be given eyedrops or ointments that are quite effective in getting rid of Gritty Eyes. In case of infections, antibiotic eyedrops is the best way to manage the infection and get rid of Gritty Eyes.[1,2,3]


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 23, 2022

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