Home > Frequently Asked Questions > Why do my eyes look red and feel itchy, gritty and/or sandy and watery?
Why do my eyes look red and feel itchy, gritty and/or sandy and watery?

(1) You may have an ocular allergy! Allergens, such as dust, mold, pet dander, etc. can cause a red, watery and itchy eye, often with puffiness of the eye and eye lids and a white, stringy discharge. Be sure to give your eye doctor all the details and symptoms you are experiencing.

(2)You may have a dry eye! Dryness can cause a red, watery and sandy/gritty feeling eye. Dryness can be environmental or due to a lack of tears and/or proper tear function. It can also be caused by systemic disorders such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or certain medications. Your Optometrist may recommend an artificial tear, a prescription drug called “Restasis”, and/or nutritional supplements such as Omega 3 and/or flax seed oil.

(3) Viral infections, such as “pink eye” can also cause a watery, gritty feeling eye but with a pink, rather than red, appearance. Viral infections tend to have more of a watery discharge.

(4) Bacterial infections can cause a red eye that feels irritated but can also have a yellow, mucous discharge. Sometimes patients tell us their eyelids stick together upon waking. Bacterial infections tend to be worse in the morning and gradually improve throughout the day, only to reoccur again the next morning. This type of pink eye is extremely contagious, and will often keep kids home from school, until the infection can be controlled by antibiotics.

Wearing contact lenses can exacerbate any of these conditions.