How do your tears make your eyes feel? If they cause a burning sensation when you cry, it can be an alarming and uncomfortable feeling.
Several factors, including environmental irritants, sweat, dry eyes, blepharitis, and allergies, can cause the burning sensation from your tears.
But don’t worry—treatment options are available to help you find relief from whatever is causing your tears to burn. A comprehensive eye exam can help your eye doctor determine what’s causing your discomfort.
What Are Tears Made Of?
The primary function of tears is to lubricate and protect your eyes. Tears serve as a critical protective mechanism and a natural defence against bacterial infections and are essential in maintaining the health of our eyes.
But tears aren’t just water. The tear film is made up of 3 key layers:
- Watery layer: Tears create moisture, which is critical for our eyes. This watery component of tears consists of electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, and chloride, which keep your eyes naturally hydrated.
- Oily layer: This oil helps lubricate your eyes so the eyelids glide smoothly over the eyes’ surface. The oil component of tears prevents dryness and irritation, protecting our eyes from harmful pathogens. This layer of oil can also prevent tears from evaporating too quickly.
- Mucus layer: Mucus helps spread water across the eye’s surface, keeps the tear film in place, and protects the eye from foreign substances.
Other ingredients, such as electrolytes, lysozyme, and lactoferrin, also help protect the eyes from infections.
What Is Causing My Burning Tears?
Several factors can cause a burning sensation in your eyes when you cry.
Dry eye disease is a common condition that occurs when there aren’t enough tears to lubricate your eyes or tears evaporate too quickly. It can cause symptoms like burning, stinging, or scratchy eyes. This irritation can be more pronounced when you cry, as your eyes try to produce more tears to compensate for dryness.
Blepharitis causes inflammation and irritation of the eyelids. It can lead to symptoms like burning or stinging eyes, itching, redness, and flaking around the eyes. Allergies, changes in hormonal levels, improper eye hygiene, or bacterial infections can worsen this issue.
Common allergens include pollen, pet dander, mould, and dust mites. If you are prone to allergies, you should try to avoid exposure to these irritants.
The environment around us can contain many irritants that can cause our eyes to burn or sting, such as pollution, smoke, dust, and wind, which can worsen if you have sensitive eyes or an underlying eye condition.
One of the easiest ways to limit irritation is to wear sunglasses or protective eyewear outside, especially during windy or polluted days.
We tend to sweat when we exercise, play sports, or engage in any physical activity. The sodium content in sweat can cause eye irritation, leading to a burning sensation. Your sweat can also move irritants, such as makeup or other facial products, into your eyes.
How to Treat Burning Tears
Depending on the root cause of your burning tears, you can consider several treatment options to find relief.
Artificial tears mimic the natural composition of your tears and help to soothe the eyes. You can purchase these over-the-counter, but it’s important to consult your optometrist for their recommended solution and the correct amounts.
If your burning tears result from allergies, taking an antihistamine or using allergy eye drops can provide relief. These medications help block the histamines responsible for the itching, watery, and burning sensations caused by an allergic reaction. Many antihistamines are available over-the-counter.
In cases where eyes experience inflammation or blocked oil glands, a warm compress can provide relief. The compress applies moist heat to your eyes, which can help unblock the oil glands and expel bacteria and debris. You can use this option multiple times daily, and it requires consistency to see results.
If the cause of burning tears is a bacterial or viral infection, the doctor may prescribe eye drops containing antibiotics or antiviral medications to treat the infection. Common bacterial infections include conjunctivitis (pink eye) and can be contagious. Using the eye treatment for the prescribed period can clear out the bacteria or virus causing burning and discomfort in your eyes.
Stop Burning Eyes at the Source
You don’t have to put up with the uncomfortable sensation caused by burning. Your eye doctor at Urban Optique can help determine the causes of your burning tears and recommend treatment options to help you prevent and manage your discomfort.
Schedule an appointment today for a comprehensive eye exam so we can help you relieve your symptoms.