Why have my tears started to hurt my eyes?
February 18, 2021 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Because of [gestures broadly at everything] I cry basically every day, and lately I've been finding that it causes severe eye discomfort, almost as though I've gotten chlorine in my eyes. Is this even a thing, or have I just lost my mind even more than previously?

I originally assumed that I was having a reaction to a moisturizer (the moisturizer was suddenly causing breakouts as well, and I thought perhaps it was just getting rubbed/leaked into my eyes when crying). However, I have stopped using the moisturizer entirely and the issue persists.

I haven't worn eye makeup or mascara or anything recently; I still sometimes pencil in my eyebrows but there's no indication that that is getting into my eyes at all.

Note that this isn't an issue of the skin AROUND my eyes, or the usual swelling of the eyelids or anything. It's a painful stinging/itching feeling IN the eye that really feels like I've opened my eyes in an over-chlorinated pool. Eye drops don't really help much, the only thing that helps is going awhile without crying, but let me tell you, that is NOT feeling like a real option these days.

My eyes are definitely more tired and strained in general, from endless screens and no sleep, but even on the rare days when I am screenless and rested, the crying effect persists.

Googling turns up a bunch of results for allergies to sweat, tears, and other water but I don't seem to have any ill effects from sweating or showers. All the same, I was once allergic to my own hair for awhile so I know you can kind of be allergic to anything, but...tears?

Hoping someone has a similar experience or can think of something I've been missing.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
So... now that I'm working from home for the rest of my natural life, it appears, I sit RIGHT NEXT TO a floor vent that blows hot on me all day, and my eyes are just so painful by the end of the day (and I wear contacts so that makes it even more delightful). I wonder if you have a new work environment/drier air than you're used to or something like that? Maybe the tears are just exacerbating everything else that's going on.
posted by jabes at 1:19 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


OMG are you me? Except I've ALWAYS had this when I cry "too much." (I mean, what is "too much" in the grand scheme of things, am I right?) My solution was to, paradoxically, start using drops for 'dry eye' maybe twice or three times a week. And after a crying jag, putting a warm, wet washcloth over my eyes for 10-15 minutes really helps. I hope you find some relief.
posted by cooker girl at 1:23 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


I have no idea if this is a thing that can happen or not, but could you be dehydrated? I mean, urine becomes more concentrated when you don't drink enough, maybe tears do too, and the increased salt content could be irritating.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:32 PM on February 18 [5 favorites]


A couple of years ago I had a situation where I got eyelid eczema, probably from dry skin and crying too much, and then my tears started to burn my skin. It was just the worst, like a Greek myth in miniature: she was punished for her crying by HER OWN TEARS BURNING HER SKIN.

Anticlimactically, I went to the dermatologist who gave me a prescription tube of something (probably cortisone? But I don't remember) and that fixed it right up.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:33 PM on February 18 [4 favorites]


A few ideas!

Are your eyelids at all oily? I get stinging in my eyes when oil from my lids migrates to my eyes. Washing my face fixes it up pretty much immediately.

It's also possible that you're having an allergic reaction to something else (maybe transferred from your hands?) and it's manifesting as little bumps on the underside of your eyelids. I had this so bad once that I had a *blister on my eyeball*. I was prescribed antihistamine drops for this, which helped almost immediately but stung like hell because my eyes were so raw.

If you can get eye drops with hyaluronic acid in them, they are immensely soothing and cooling and I highly recommend them if you're having issues with dry eyes. They're truly magical.
posted by burntflowers at 2:26 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Have you changed your hair care routine at all lately? I tried doing the curly girl hair method, and find that a few days of not shampooing my oily hair translate to a more-oily-than-usual face and the oil gets in my eyes and hurts if I cry or rub my eyes or blink too hard.
posted by beandip at 2:37 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Maybe: Why Emotional Tears Are Different.

And seconding burntflowers, my tears hurt when my face hasn't been washed for a while. Like the tears dissolve some random irritant that was just sitting there causing no problems until it got wet and flowed around and all over my eyeball.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:39 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


I have severely dry eyes from autoimmune conditions, and when I do cry the tears can sting my eyes something fierce.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:08 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


You have dry eyes! Sorry. It sucks.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:18 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


I get the thing too! It sucks a lot!

I guess this is just a solidarity comment, because I've never tried any of the suggestions here. The warm, wet washcloth cooker girl recommends sounds like a brilliant idea, though. I've found that a (warm) shower when I've been crying mitigates or resolves it, too.

For what it's worth, I have a known case of dry eyes (and a face that tends toward oiliness), but I never put two and two together about it until this thread.
posted by some_kind_of_toaster at 4:44 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Yup, when I am in a longer stretch of crying, this starts happening. It almost feels like the tears have eroded off a protective coating on the eye and then the tears just burn the surfaces that used to be protected. Using a warm tea compress sometimes helps. Minty eyedrops (Rhoto makes some) also help, though make sure you get ones with no redness remover.
posted by quince at 6:05 PM on February 18


Do you have enough support? Able to see a therapist? Crying is good and pandemics are shit... but crying every day might be a hint that you could take some steps to ease those feelings a bit. Sending good vibes!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:36 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Hello yes, I also have this and it sucks.

I hate steaming my face (Uncomfortable! Too hot! Also boring!) but holding your towel-draped head over a bowl of steaming water will fix this in 10 minutes.

Massage a drop of castor oil onto your lash lines afterwards. And use some facial moisturizer, it will soak in better since your pores are open.
posted by ananci at 8:12 PM on February 18


This is me too, almost any time I cry without my contacts in. It's excruciating! I had also been assuming it was moisturizer or something (usually if I don't have contacts in it's after bedtime), and occasionally having anxious flights of fancy about being allergic to my own tears, so I'm glad to see the very convincing and plausible alternate hypothesis of dry eyes.
posted by babelfish at 8:36 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


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