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June 30, 2017
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Your eye is an extremely sensitive organ. It also happens to be an
extension of your brain. Your eye is made from delicate tissue
and much of this tissue is directly exposed to the elements. There
is a lot of protection for the eye but sometimes it can become
injured or infected – and it can feel strangely hot.

A hot feeling in the eye is different from a burning sensation. You
may not actually feel pain, although the feeling may be
uncomfortable and worrying.  What causes a hot sensation in the
eyes? Is there anything you can do to prevent a hot eye or stop it
once it has started heating up?

What Does It Mean to Have a Hot Eye?

A hot eye may be experienced in a number of different ways. You
may feel heat when the eye is open, or only when you close the
eyes. You may feel heat radiating out from the eye. The eye may
feel hot all around or it could be hot beneath the eyelids or at the
corners. You may also experience an aching sensation in the eye,
or soreness or grittiness. You may feel no other symptoms or you
could experience red and watering eyes, eye pain, itchy eyes,
swelling, vision problems, or an eye discharge.

The heat sensation in the eye can come before a feeling of
burning or burning pain in the eye and the extent of the heat and
whether there are other symptoms associated with it may tell you
whether the eye is infected. But it can be difficult to know
whether a hot sensation in the eye is coming from the surface of
the eyeball, inside the eye, or behind the eye.

What Are the Causes of a Hot Eye?

There is no one cause of hot eyes or a burning, hot sensation in
the eyes, nor is it particularly easy to narrow down the cause
from the many factors affecting the eyes. But there are some
common reasons for eye inflammation, which can often result in a
hot sensation in the eyes when they are open or when they are

A heat sensation is usually caused by inflammation, which is the
body’s mechanism for protecting you when there is a tissue
injury. Inflammation increases blood flow to the affected area for
better healing, and this can bring heat. There are a number of
reasons for inflammation in the eye area.

These include eye strain, which often results in burning or hot
eyes. Eyes may also become injured, which makes them feel hot
due to the protective inflammation around and in the eyes. Dust
and hot sun can damage eyes, as can chemicals and blunt

Common chemicals to cause eye injury and potentially hot eyes
include cosmetics, soaps, perfumes, insecticides, pool water, and
some contact lenses. Any condition that causes dry eyes can
result in hot eyes since the lack of moisture causes irritation,
which results in burning or heat. 

Allergies can cause a hot eye or eyes. When the eye comes into
contact with an allergen such as pollen, pet hair, or dust it
becomes irritated. Other symptoms along with burning or hot
eyes include irritated nose and sinuses, as well as red eyes. When
the eye is inflamed by allergens it is called "allergic conjunctivitis".

And a number of different eye diseases can cause the eye to feel
hot. Eye diseases include blepharitis, keratitis, orbital cellulitis,
trichiasis, uveitis, and gonococcal conjunctivitis.

So how do you treat a hot eye? We looked at recent scientific
literature to find out the best remedies for a hot sensation in the
eye, and how hot eyes can be prevented.

1. Eye Strain Can Cause a Hot Eye – How to Correct It

One of the most common ways to experience a hot eye is the
feeling of heat when you close your eyes after a long day. This
can be caused by eye strain, which results in dry and tired eyes
that also feel hot. Eye strain is caused by various activities such
as watching TV for too long, spending a lot of time on a computer
or tablet, reading in dim light, or going out in the sun without

Eye strain may also be caused by certain forms of exercise,
including cycling as a 2016 study from the University of Auckland
in New Zealand suggests.

But there is hope, since the same researchers suggest that
drinking coffee could be a cure for such eye strain. When you
exercise vigorously, for example cycling, you reduce the central
nervous system’s ability to move muscles. This results in tired
legs but it also results in tired eyes since the eyes are also
controlled by muscles. The researchers looked at 11 cyclists,
some of whom consumed caffeine during a three-hour cycling

The study showed that caffeine indirectly boosted
neurotransmitters in the brain that helped prevent central fatigue.
Impaired eye movement was restored with caffeine.
In order to avoid hot eyes associated with eye strain, take plenty
of screen breaks, close your eyes from time to time during the
day, wear the correct corrective lenses, and maybe even have a
couple of cups of coffee if you are working out.

Avoid Eye Injury to Prevent a Hot Eye

An eye injury can cause a hot eye, which could be the result of
swelling or bruising as the inflammation in the eye takes effect.
Avoiding an eye injury is one way to avoid a hot eye. A 2015
study from John Hopkins University in Baltimore says that falling
and fighting are the two main causes of the eye injuries that need
hospitalization in the US.

These injuries not only result in a hot eye but are expensive to
treat, say researchers, and also largely preventable. The study
looked at almost 47,000 people who presented with ocular
trauma between 2002 and 2011.

Falls were the leading cause of eye injury with 8,425
hospitalizations, and most involved someone over the age of 60.
Fighting was the second most common reason for eye injury and
accounted for 8,000 hospitalizations. The average cost of
treatment for these injuries was $20,116. If you do suffer an eye
injury, do not wash out the eye if it is cut and do not try and
remove an object stuck in the eye – seek immediate medical

Prevent Hot Eyes Due to Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is also known as pinkeye and it is an
inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers over
your eyeball. Allergic conjunctivitis may result in a bloodshot eye,
a hot eye, or eye discomfort.

Vitamin A can help. Some studies show that vitamin A could help
people who suffer from chronic conjunctivitis as these people
may have a vitamin A deficiency. A 1976 study by BG Rankov was
the first to draw a link between vitamin A deficiency and
conjunctivitis, which could cause hot eyes.

Immunotherapy Can Help Improve Hot Eyes Due to Allergic

If your hot eye is due to allergic conjunctivitis you could also
receive immunotherapy, according to a 2008 study from the
American Academy Of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s
Immunotherapy and Allergy Diagnostics Committee.

This is also called an “allergy shot” and it is a type of treatment
that decreases sensitivity to allergens. When you receive
immunotherapy you are injected with small amounts of the
allergen and the amount is increased until you get to a target
therapeutic dose.

This is supposed to build resistance to allergens, and therefore
reduce symptoms like hot eyes.

Treat Blepharitis, a Cause of a Hot Eye

Blepharitis is an eye disease affecting the eyelids and the follicles
in the eyelashes. You may experience
swollen eyelids, crusting,
and redness as well as a hot eye and
sensitivity to light.

Studies show that n-acetyl cysteine (NAC), a form of amino acid,
can help to relieve the symptoms of blepharitis since it helps
loosen secretions and improves antioxidant response. A 2002
study from SSK Okmeydani Training Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey
looked at the benefits of n-acetyl cysteine in 50 people with
blepharitis. Half the participants received a dose of 100mg three
times a day. They experienced significant improvements in their

Take Care with Your Contact Lenses to Avoid Hot Eyes

Did you know that improper use and care of contact lenses can
actually cause a painful condition that not only causes a hot
sensation in the eyes but could even result in blindness? A 2014
report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
highlights the condition called "keratitis", which is when the
cornea is infected by fungi, bacteria, or other microbes.

They highlight one of the main reasons people visit the doctor for
keratitis – wearing contact lenses.  If you do not take proper care
of lenses you are at increased risk of keratitis, hot eyes, and
other symptoms.

If untreated, keratitis can lead to blindness.

In order to minimize the risk, always wash and dry hands before
touching lenses, rinse them in solution every time you take them
out, use a good contact lens solution, never clean them in water
or saliva, and do not sleep, bathe, or swim in them.

Disinfect Your Contact Lenses for Longer to Avoid Hot Eyes?

You may also need to disinfect your contact lenses longer in
order to prevent complications like infection and hot eyes.

A 2014 study from The University of Liverpool and The Royal
Liverpool University NHS Trust in the UK shows that the bacteria
that cause keratitis may actually be resistant to certain common
contact lens solutions, unless used in the solution for a longer
time. The results of the study showed that most of the strains of
bacteria were killed within 10 minutes of immersion in the
solution, but that one strain resisted for over four hours.

So it is definitely worth leaving contact lenses in solution longer
in order to avoid the risk of hot eyes from keratitis.

Limit Sugar Consumption to Prevent Hot Eye Diseases?

A diet high in sugar can cause not only cavities and obesity, but
eye problems too, including conditions that can cause hot eyes.
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), 2001, from the
National Eye Institute reveals that those people at most risk of
age-related macular degeneration should limit refined sugar
consumption in order to protect themselves from
dry eye and
other serious issues like cataract. Dry eye can be a problem as it
causes irritation and heat in the eyes. It is thought that glucose
that is delivered too quickly to the eye can actually prevent the
eye from using the energy from the sugar properly.

Sjogren’s Syndrome Can Cause Hot Eyes

Sjogren's syndrome is a type of autoimmune condition. The tear
glands and the salivary glands are affected, and it can cause
symptoms like heat in the eye and irritation in the eyes. The
supplement called n-acetyl cysteine may help the body to make a
certain compound that loosens secretions in the eyes and can
help to prevent associated symptoms of dry eye and a hot
sensation in the eye.

A 1986 study by Walters MT, Rubin CE, Keightley SJ, et al looked
at 26 people with the syndrome and found that use of the
supplement at 200mg three times a day improved eye symptoms.

Vitamin C and Vitamin E Can Help Treat Uveitis, A Cause of
Hot Eyes

Uveitis is a condition where the uvea is inflamed, and it can result
in symptoms like hot eyes and blurred vision. There is often a
deep ache associated with the heat and the vision problems.

Two natural substances used as a combination have shown
promise at treating uveitis when linked with standard treatment –
Vitamin C and
Vitamin E.

A 1999 study from the Eye Hospital Rotterdam, Netherlands
looked at 145 people who were having treatment for uveitis and
found that those given an additional 500mg of Vitamin C and
100mg of vitamin E twice a day had better vision and fewer
symptoms than the placebo group.

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Lifting heavy luggage or grocery bags is a
common cause of eye hemorrhage.