Why does my eye hurt when i cry

Why Do My Eyes Burn When I Cry: Causes and Treatments

Tearing up after one too many episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” or someone broke your heart? Sometimes, waterworks are inevitable.

And while you start crying it out, you’ve probably noticed some annoying eye irritation symptoms like burning, stinging, and itchiness.

Umm, why do my eyes burn when I cry?

When you cry, the fluid in your eye increases, potentially exacerbating any existing eye probs or effects of irritants.

If you feel burning, it may be due to sweat, environmental irritants like soap, dry eyes, allergies, or a medical condition.

As long as your symptoms are mild and short-lived, these unpleasant teary effects are pretty normal. If you experience something more severe or prolonged, though, it could indicate an underlying health condition. So, if you feel like your eyes are on fire 🔥, def call a doc.

Here are the deets on why your eyes might burn when you cry.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the average person produces about 15 to 30 gallons of tears every year. (Not quite a river, JT.)

Tears are essential to eye health even without breaking out the tissue box. They lube up your eyes and protect your vision 👀.

Basal tears (the ones that lubricate, protect, and nourish your cornea) and reflex tears (the ones that fend off irritants) help wash away:

  • dirt
  • debris
  • irritants

Emotional tears are a different thing. You know, the ones that call for tubs of ice cream or a celebratory toast.

Even if you swear you were just cutting onions, these tears tend to flow out in larger quantities in response to emotional stimuli such as:

  • sadness
  • pain
  • happiness

What’s *in* my tears?

No matter the type, all tears contain:

  • water
  • electrolytes
  • metabolites
  • lipids

But some research from 2018 suggests that emotional tears might have additional hormones and proteins.

There are a few reasons your eyes might sting when you cry that signal a typical bodily response.

Foreign irritants

Things like soap, fragrances, or dust may cause your eye’s lacrimal glands (those glands just below the tail of your brow) to produce reflex tears to try to fight off these invaders. Like true MVPs, these tears also include antibodies that fight bad bacteria.

You might experience some burning when the reflex tears fall. Since your eyes are trying to flush the irritant out, you may also experience prolonged crying.

After your eyes successfully wash away the substance, the burning and stinging should stop.

Chemicals via sweat

Breaking a major sweat to that workout vid? Your eyes might sting from reflex tears from sweating it out.

The perspiration itself doesn’t cause the tears — instead, your sweat may move irritants like moisturizer, makeup, or sunscreen into your eyes. Once the reflex tears get the job done, the burning should take a hike.

Some eye burning might happen due to an underlying medical condition beyond typical irritants.

Dry eye

Dry eye happens when your eyes don’t make enough tears to stay lubed up. A lot of peeps deal with dry eye, which can cause symptoms like:

  • burning
  • redness
  • blurriness
  • a dry, scratchy feeling

Potential causes of the condition include:

  • hormone fluctuations (like during pregnancy)
  • medications
  • wearing contact lenses

Dry eye tends to be more common in older folks since tear production from the lacrimal glands decrease with age.


Blepharitis is a condition that causes red, swollen eyelids that feel irritated and itchy. It can also cause crusty flakes on the eyelashes. Usually bacteria or clogged oil glands are to blame.

When you’re feeling teary-eyed and have blepharitis, you might notice some uncomfy symptoms like:

  • burning
  • blurriness
  • eye watering
  • itchiness
  • dryness
  • crusty lids
  • light sensitivity

Eye allergies

If your eyes burn when you have a good cry, eye allergies may be to blame. Some common allergens that could trigger this reaction include:

  • pollen
  • mold
  • smoke
  • pet dander

Just like blepharitis and dry eye, symptoms of eye allergies might come with:

  • burning
  • itchiness
  • wateriness
  • redness

Other allergy symptoms like sneezing, a stuffy nose, or migraine often come with eye allergies. When you touch your eyes or cry, you can make eye allergies worse.

Pink eye

Pink eye (aka conjunctivitis) is an inflammation of the clear membrane around your eyeball that can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or allergies. It can also lead to infection.

Pink eye symptoms can include:

  • redness or pinkness
  • wateriness
  • itchiness
  • burning sensation
  • discharge or buildup

Since pink eye *can be* super contagious, def figure out whether it’s your itchy-eye culprit. It’s best treated by a doc.

Home remedies

If your burning eyes are making you want to cry some more, stop right there. These at-home options may lend the relief you need:

  • Keeping it cool (or hot): A warm or cool compress placed over your closed lids may soothe your eyes.
  • Flush it out: Flushing out the eyes with a saline solution or artificial tear eyedrops may help. Best not to use tap water as it can contain bacteria and other nasties you don’t want in your eyes.
  • Clean up: Gently cleaning the area around your eyes with a warm washcloth can lend immediate relief.
  • Indoor humidifiers: Dryness in the area can make probs worse. A humidifier can add moisture to the air and lend your eyes some relief.

OTC meds

If those don’t do the trick, you may need some over-the-counter (OTC) assistance from one of the following:

  • Antihistamines: OTC antihistamines may work for mild to moderate eye allergies. (Proceed with caution: the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology says oral antihistamines could make dry eye worse. )
  • Artificial tears: No, these aren’t for when you want someone to feel sorry for you. Artificial tears can be picked up at any drugstore and work best for dry eye, blepharitis, and eye allergies.
  • Eye drops: OTC eye drops can also work well for eye allergies.
  • Ointments or gels: Sometimes moisturizing the fragile skin around the eyes can help lessen symptoms. Look for ointments or gels specially formulated for the eye area.

Prescription meds

Prescription drugs can also help, especially if a medical condition is to blame for your burning peepers.

If your eye probs call for a visit to the doc, they might prescribe:

  • Prescription antihistamine: If you have a severe allergic reaction, your doctor can prescribe a prescription antihistamine to treat your eyes.
  • Decongestants: Decongestants are sometimes prescribed to reduce redness.
  • Steroid eye drops: These will help control inflammation in certain eye conditions.
  • Prescription eye drops: Options like cyclosporine (Restasis) can help the eyes produce more tears.
  • Allergen immunotherapy: Severe allergies can also be treated with allergy shots.

A little eye burning when you cry from time to time is pretty normal. But if it’s an ongoing prob or causes serious discomfort, talk to a doctor.

Chronic tearing up or burning could mean you have an undiagnosed eye condition. If you already have meds for an underlying eye condition, keeping up on your treatment plan will help prevent issues.

Call your doc if you have new or worsening symptoms that don’t let up with home remedies or OTC treatments.

Burning while crying will often stop when the tears stop flowing. If you experience severe burning, though, or intense burning every time you shed a tear, it could signal an underlying eye condition.

If your symptoms keep on coming despite trying home remedies and OTC options, talk with a healthcare pro ASAP.

Why Do My Eyes Burn When I Cry? Causes and Treatments

Crying may result in temporary eye irritation. Symptoms can include:

  • burning
  • stinging
  • itchiness

While mild and acute, or short-term, symptoms are considered normal, severe burning could indicate an underlying eye health condition.

Read on to learn more about why your eyes burn when you cry, and what you may do to treat eye irritation at home.

If problems with your eyes persist, it’s important to talk with a medical professional for further evaluation.

Crying elicits tears, which are essential components of your eye health. In fact, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it’s estimated that the average person produces between 15 and 30 gallons of tears every year.

Tears help lubricate your eyes to protect your vision. Basal and reflex tears specifically help wash away:

  • dirt
  • debris
  • irritants

On the other hand, emotional tears tend to be produced in larger quantities as a response to emotional stimuli such as:

  • sadness
  • pain
  • happiness

All tears contain:

  • water
  • electrolytes
  • metabolites
  • lipids

But some researchers also believe that emotional tears possibly have additional hormones and proteins, according to a 2018 research review.

Burning sensations while crying aren’t automatically indicative of an eye condition.

Environmental irritants

If you’re exposed to smoke or other irritants, your lacrimal glands will produce tears called reflex tears to help get rid of these invaders. Reflex tears also have antibodies to get rid of potentially harmful bacteria.

Depending on the irritant being removed, you may experience burning with reflex tears. You’ll also likely experience a greater quantity of tears, which may feel like emotional crying.

One example is getting soap in your eye. Unlike an underlying eye condition though, burning and stinging sensations should ease after the irritant is removed.


Sweating can also cause stinging eyes. Your eyes may produce reflex tears in such situations as well. You may be at risk of burning sensations if sweat moves chemical irritants in your eyes, such as face products or cosmetics.

Eye burning when crying may also be related to an underlying medical condition. They include:

Dry eye

Burning is a common symptom of dry eye. Other possible symptoms include:

  • redness
  • blurriness
  • an overall dry or scratchy feeling

Dry eye occurs when your eyes don’t make enough tears to stay lubricated. Causes of dry eye may include:

  • hormone fluctuations
  • medications
  • wearing contact lenses

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, dry eye is also more common in older adults because tear production from the lacrimal glands naturally decreases with age.


Blepharitis is a condition that involves eyelid:

  • swelling
  • inflammation
  • irritation

If you have blepharitis, you may be at a higher risk of developing dry eye. This condition can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as:

  • burning
  • watery eyes
  • itchiness
  • dryness
  • crusty eyelids
  • light sensitivity
  • blurry vision

Eye allergies

Burning symptoms that worsen with crying may also be associated with eye allergies. While eye allergies can be seasonal from pollen, they may also be triggered by:

  • mold
  • smoke
  • pet dander
  • dust mites

Like blepharitis and dry eye, symptoms of eye allergies can include:

  • burning
  • redness
  • wateriness
  • itchiness

With eye allergies though, you may experience other allergy symptoms, such as sneezing and a stuffy nose. Symptoms may be worsened with irritation, such as from crying or rubbing the eyes.

Treatment for burning eyes when crying may include home remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) products to address the underlying causes. Options may include:

  • warm or cool compresses placed over your eyelids with eyes closed
  • cleaning your eyelids with cotton swabs to remove crusts from blepharitis
  • using a warm washcloth to remove irritants from around your eyes, such as soap, sweat, or cosmetics
  • artificial tears for dry eye, blepharitis, and eye allergy
  • eye drops for symptoms of eye allergy
  • ointments or gels that moisturize the delicate skin around your eyes
  • indoor humidifiers to help add moisture to the air

Allergies may benefit from OTC antihistamines more generally. However, if you already experience dry eye, oral antihistamines could make your symptoms worse, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Instead, your doctor may recommend:

  • prescription antihistamine
  • decongestant
  • steroid eye drops

Severe allergies may also be treated with allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots).

Prescription options

Other types of prescriptions used in the treatment of burning eyes depends on the underlying cause, but may include:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) eye drops
  • antibiotic eye drops or oral medications for blepharitis caused by bacteria
  • steroid eye drops to control inflammation
  • eye drops that help your eyes produce more tears, such as cyclosporine (Restasis)

New cases of eye burning when crying should be evaluated by a medical professional.

While occasional reflex tears from eye irritation are normal, any chronic tearing and burning could indicate an undiagnosed eye condition.

If you already have an underlying condition, such as dry eye, it’s important to adhere to your treatment plan.

Call a healthcare professional if you experience new or worsening symptoms despite home remedies and medical treatments.

Burning sensations when crying may be temporary, and can resolve once you stop shedding tears. However, more severe burning — or burning that occurs every time you cry — make be a symptom of an underlying eye condition.

If your symptoms persist despite trying home remedies, talk with a healthcare professional for advice. Depending on the severity of your condition, they may also refer you to an eye specialist.

Pain in the eyes - why do the eyes hurt?

One of the most common complaints that patients come to us with is eye pain. The nature of the pain can be different: acute, aching, throbbing, pain can be permanent or appear periodically, be accompanied by additional complaints and symptoms, or be the only manifestation of the disease.

That is why eye pain is a symptom in which it is necessary to immediately consult an ophthalmologist in order to determine the cause of pain in time and start treatment at the initial stages of the disease.

The main causes of pain in the eyes:

Pain in the eyes can occur as a manifestation of an ophthalmic disease, and accompany disturbances in the functioning of other body systems.

Common diseases that can cause pain in the eyes include:


This is a headache that is usually accompanied by strong throbbing and lasts for a long time - up to several days. Against the backdrop of migraine headache, patients may experience pain in the eye (usually only one eye hurts). Additional symptoms may include nausea and impaired light perception.

Cluster headaches

This disease is characterized by frequent attacks of headache. Unlike migraines, cluster pains last from one week to several months. Against this background, pain may also occur in one or both eyes at once.

Sinus infections

Sinusitis (sinusitis, frontal sinusitis, ethmoiditis) is a common cause of eye pain. With inflammation of the nasal sinuses, stagnation of their contents and swelling of the mucous membrane occur, which leads to a narrowing of the passages connecting the nasal sinuses with the nasopharynx. Due to such changes, pain in the sinuses, headache and pain in the eyes can occur.

Among ophthalmic diseases, pain is most often accompanied by:

Inflammatory eye diseases:

Conjunctivitis - inflammation of the mucous membrane of the eye, uveitis - inflammation of the choroid, scleritis - inflammation of the sclera and others.


The disease, one of the main symptoms of which is an increase in intraocular pressure, may also be accompanied by a sensation of pain in the eyes. This disease leads to irreversible loss of vision, so it is very important to diagnose vision at the slightest suspicion of glaucoma.

Visual fatigue is a common cause of discomfort and pain in the eyes.

Usually appears after a long work at the computer, in front of the screen of the gadget, reading books or documents. Also, the pain may be accompanied by redness of the eyes.

Mechanical damage to the cornea

Pain occurs after a foreign body or injury (dust, shavings, tree branches, etc.) enters the eye. Tearing, redness of the eyes, which may increase over time, also join the pain in the eye. Corneal damage is a formidable disease that can lead to loss of vision if not treated on time.

Incorrectly selected vision correction method.

Incorrectly selected glasses can provoke visual strain, which will be accompanied by all signs of visual fatigue, including pain in the eyes.

Even more difficult is the situation with the wrong selection of contact lenses. At the same time, in addition to eye strain, there is a chance to get other complications, including inflammation of the surface of the eye. That is why ophthalmologists recommend not to choose the method of vision correction on your own, but to seek a consultation with a specialist.

Pain in the eye can be a symptom of a serious illness and requires careful diagnosis, therefore, in case of pain in the eyes, it is necessary to seek the advice of a doctor so that he can establish a diagnosis and help choose a treatment.

If you feel a dull, sharp, or aching pain in your eye, especially if it is accompanied by redness of the eye, discomfort, nausea, and poor vision, see your doctor right away.

We invite you to a consultation at the Expert Ophthalmology Doctor of Medical Sciences Maria Znamenskaya. Doctors of the clinic will help to identify the causes of pain in the eyes, establish a diagnosis and choose the best method of treatment.

Why eyes can hurt and how to fix it


Why eyes can hurt and how to fix it

If the eyes hurt and watery, there is little pleasant - but the causes of these sensations can be completely incomprehensible, and this complicates the problem. It's hard to get better when you don't know why you got sick.

There are many reasons why you can suffer from eye pain for a long time. Some are immediately obvious, and some can only be diagnosed by an ophthalmologist. What to look for and how to deal with unpleasant itching, swelling and redness - we will tell you in more detail.

Obvious causes of eye pain

Before deciding what to do if your eyes hurt, you need to establish why this pain arose - and in some cases everything is clear at a glance:

  • a foreign body has got into the eye, which greatly interferes and causes discomfort;
  • you have put on inappropriate contact lenses, which is why your eyes are red and sore;
  • the pain is the result of an injury, such as a bruise due to a fall or a blow;
  • you have been working at the computer for too long and constantly rubbing your eyes;
  • you often spend time with a book, but neglect reading glasses.

Sometimes one right or left eye can get sick - most often this is due to glasses into which different lenses are inserted. One can be chosen flawlessly, but the doctor made a mistake with the second - and the result is deplorable. In this case, you should immediately run to a specialist and ask to change glasses.


Diseases causing severe eye pain

Conjunctivitis is an inflammatory process that causes a feeling of sand in the eyes. They also turn red, discharge appears. If the eye is swollen and sore, it is likely that inflammation is to blame.

Mechanical damage to the cornea is a problem that is most often associated with the ingress of a foreign body. These are serious cases that can even result in the loss of an eye, so pain should never be ignored.

Spasm of the vessels of the head - a process that causes pressing pain in the forehead and orbits.

Learn more