Why Do My Eyes Burn When I Cry?

You’re crying because you watched too many episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy,” or has someone crushed your heart? Waterworks are sometimes unavoidable. While you’re sobbing, you’ve certainly experienced some irritating eye irritation symptoms like burning, stinging, and itchiness.

These unpleasant teary effects are fairly standard as long as your symptoms are moderate and brief. However, if you have a more severe or protracted reaction, it could suggest an underlying health concern. So, if your eyes are on fire, you should see a doctor. Here are some reasons why your eyes may burn when you weep.

Why Do My Eyes Burn When I Cry
Why Do My Eyes Burn When I Cry

For crying out loud, why are there tears?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the average person sheds 15 to 30 gallons of tears per year. (Not a river, JT.) Tears are important for eye health, even if you don’t use tissues. They lubricate your eyes and shield your eyesight.

Basal tears (those that lubricate, protect, and nourish your cornea) and reflex tears (those that ward off irritants) aid in the removal of:

  • Dirt
  • Debris
  • Irritants

Emotional tears are a different thing. You know, those requiring tubs of ice cream or a toast. Even if you swear you were only cutting onions, these tears tend to flow out in higher numbers in response to emotional triggers such as:

  • Sadness
  • Pain
  • Happiness

Environmental Causes Why your Eyes Sting

Several reasons why your eyes may sting when you cry indicate a normal biological response.

Irritating foreign substances

Soap, perfumes, and dust can cause your eye’s lacrimal glands (those glands just below the tail of your forehead) to generate reflex tears to fight off these invaders. These tears, like actual MVPs, include antibodies that combat nasty microorganisms.

When the reflex tears fall, you may feel some burning. You may endure prolonged sobbing as your eyes try to wash out the irritation. The burning and stinging should stop once your eyes have effectively washed away the material.

Sweat Contains Chemicals

Are you working up a sweat to that fitness video? Your eyes may sting from sweating-induced reaction tears. Perspiration does not produce tears; your sweat may transport irritants such as moisturizers, mascara, or sunscreen into your eyes. The burning should go away when the reflex tears have finished their work.

Your Ryes are Burning for Medical Reasons

Aside from common irritants, some eye burning may occur due to an underlying medical problem.

Dry eye

Dry eyes occur when your eyes do not produce enough tears to keep them lubricated. Many people suffer from dry eyes, which can have symptoms such as:

  • Burning
  • Redness
  • Blurriness
  • An itchy, dry sensation

Among the possible reasons for the condition are:

  • Fluctuating hormone levels (like during pregnancy)
  • Medications
  • Putting on contact lenses

Dry eyes are more common in the elderly because tear production from the lacrimal glands decreases with age.


Blepharitis is a disorder that causes red, swollen, irritated, and itchy eyelids. It might also result in crusty flakes on the lashes. Bacteria or blocked oil glands are usually at fault. When you have blepharitis and are teary-eyed, you may experience several unpleasant symptoms such as:

  • Burning
  • Blurriness
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchiness
  • Dryness
  • Rusty lids
  • Sensitivity to light

Allergies to the eyes

Eye allergies may be at blame if your eyes burn when you cry. Common allergies that may cause this reaction include:

  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Smoke
  • Dander from pets

Eye allergies, like blepharitis and dry eye, can cause the following symptoms:

  • Burning
  • Itchiness
  • Wateriness
  • Redness

Other allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, a stuffy nose, or migraine, are frequently associated with eye allergies. Touching your eyes or crying might aggravate eye allergies.

Pink vision

Pink eye (also known as conjunctivitis) is an infection of the transparent membrane surrounding the eyeball caused by bacteria, viruses, or allergies. It may also result in disease.

Among the signs of pink eye are:

  • Pinkness or redness
  • Wateriness
  • Itchiness
  • Sensation of burning
  • Discharge or accumulation

Because pink eye can be pretty contagious, you should determine whether it’s the source of your itchy eyes. It’s advisable to see a doctor about it.

How can I get rid of my burning eyes?

Natural cures

Stop if your burning eyes make you want to cry some more. These at-home methods may provide the needed relief:

  • Keeping it cool (or hot): Applying a warm or cool compress to your closed lids may provide relief.
  • Flushing your eyes with saline solution or fake tear eyedrops may assist. It’s best to avoid using tap water because it can include germs and other nastiness that you don’t want in your eyes.
  • Cleaning the area around your eyes gently with a warm washcloth will provide instant comfort.
  • Indoor humidifiers: Dryness in the region can exacerbate problems. A humidifier can add moisture to the air and relieve your eyes.

OTC medications

If those don’t work, you might need some over-the-counter (OTC) help from one of the following:

  • Antihistamines: Over-the-counter antihistamines may help with mild to moderate eye allergies. (Be cautious: the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology warns that oral antihistamines may aggravate dry eyes.)
  • Artificial tears: These aren’t for making someone feel sorry for you. Artificial tears are available at any drugstore and are most effective for dry eyes, blepharitis, and eye allergies.
  • OTC eye drops: OTC eye drops can also help with eye allergies.
  • Ointments or gels: Moisturizing the delicate skin around the eyes can help alleviate symptoms. Look for creams or gels that are specifically designed for the eye area.

Prescription medications

Prescription medications can also assist, mainly if a medical condition causes your burning eyes.

If your eye problems need a visit to the doctor, they may prescribe:

  • Antihistamine prescription: If you have a severe allergic response, your doctor can prescribe an antihistamine to treat your eyes.
  • Decongestants: Decongestants are medications that are sometimes used to diminish redness.
  • Steroid eye drops: These will aid in managing inflammation in certain eye disorders.
  • Prescription eye drops, such as cyclosporine (Restasis), can assist the eyes in producing more tears.
  • Allergen immunotherapy: Allergy injections can also be used to treat severe allergies.

Concerns: Should I consult a doctor?

When you cry, it’s normal for your eyes to burn a little. However, consult a doctor if the problem persists or causes severe discomfort. Chronic tearing or burning may indicate an undetected eye problem. If you already take medication for an underlying eye illness, sticking to your treatment plan will help you avoid complications.

If you have new or worsening symptoms that are not alleviated by home cures or over-the-counter medications, consult your doctor.

In conclusion

If your symptoms persist despite attempting home remedies and over-the-counter medications, consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible. When the tears cease flowing, the burning will often stop. However, if you have severe or acute burning every time you cry, this could indicate an underlying eye issue.

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