Have you ever wondered what causes rough eyes? Many people experience itchy and rough eyes and although this is not uncommon, it can be quite uncomfortable. This article sponsored by JLR Eye Hospital explores the causes and symptoms of rough eyes and offers great solutions if your eyes are rough.

Symptoms of rough eyes

Rough eyes are often described as the feeling of having sand in the eyes and they are usually accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • dry eyes
  • burning eyes
  • tearing
  • red eyes
  • Itchy eyes

The causes of grainy eyes

Rough eyes can be caused by a range of factors, including eye problems and medical conditions.

Dry eye syndrome

If your eyes are not getting sufficient lubrication, itching and burning sensation in the eyes occur which can be due to dry eye syndrome. It needs to be treated immediately so that it doesn’t cause infections or further damage to the eye.

Corneal abrasion

A corneal abrasion occurs when the cornea has a scratch on its surface. If you have a corneal abrasion, you may feel like there is something stuck in your eye or you may feel a gritty sensation. Corneal abrasions can be caused by makeup brushes, fingernails, or even tree branches.


The eyelids have inflammation in this condition which is common nowadays. It is often accompanied by sore and rough eyes and can cause the eyes to appear red and swollen. It can also cause crusting along the eyelashes.

Sunburned eyes

Overexposure to UVA and UVB rays can cause sunburn on the eyes, which can make the eyes look rough. To avoid this, you should always wear sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection when outdoors.

Eye allergies

Eye allergies such as allergic conjunctivitis occur when allergens such as pollen cause eye irritation.

When this happens, the eyes produce a substance called histamine which can cause you to feel a gritty feeling in your eyes as well as burning, itching, swelling, redness, and tearing.

Vitamin A deficiency

A lack of vitamin A in your diet can cause dry, rough eyes and affect your overall eye health. This is because we need vitamin A to produce tears that lubricate our eyes. You can fight vitamin A deficiency by eating foods such as carrots, eggs, fish, spinach, and broccoli.

Pinguecula and pterygium

Changes in connective tissue cause Pinguecula. A pterygium is a growth of the conjunctiva or mucous membrane on the cornea. Both can cause burning and gritty sensations in the eyes as well as itching and redness.

The use of eye drops or ointments can help but sometimes the patient may need surgery.

Thyroid disease

When your thyroid isn’t working properly, you may experience rough or irritated eyes. The most common symptoms of thyroid disease are red eyes, watery eyes, double vision, bulging eyes, and difficulty closing your eyes.

Medical conditions

Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma are other medical conditions that can trigger dry, rough eyes.


The following drugs can cause dry eyes and a gritty feeling:

  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Medicines for high blood pressure
  • birth control pills
  • Decongestants
  • Medicines for Parkinson’s disease
  • Heartburn medications
  • hormone replacement therapy

Laser eye surgery

Laser eye surgery can cause dry, rough eyes; it’s usually temporary, but in some cases, it may never go away and eye drops may be needed forever.


Smoky, windy environments can cause tears to evaporate quickly, as can dry climates, which can cause grit in the eyes.

Sjogren’s syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that affects your immune system and parts of the body that produce fluid, such as tears and saliva. This condition can therefore lead to dry mouth and dry eyes, which can cause a gritty feeling.

Eye drops can be used as a remedy to treat Sjögren’s syndrome, as can surgery and certain medications.


Ageing can also cause dry or rough eyes. These symptoms are often more common in people over the age of 50.

Contact lenses

Although contact lenses are a great alternative to glasses, they can sometimes cause dry eyes if not cared for properly. Be sure to listen to your optician’s advice if you want to avoid rough eyes from contact lenses.

How can you treat gritty eyes?

To treat rough eyes, you must first identify the underlying cause. Once you find out what is causing the symptoms of granulation, you will be better equipped to treat it.

Although the information below details some possible treatments for rough eyes, if your eyes are rough you should first consult your GP for medical advice. They will help you choose the treatment that is best for you.

Medical treatments

Medical treatments for rough eyes may include the following:

  • Eye drops can help significantly if the eyes are swollen or need lubrication.
  • Light therapy with eyelid massage – this is more often used for people with severe dry eye to help relieve symptoms
  • Special contact lenses – if you wear contact lenses, your doctor or eye care professional may recommend a moisturizing lens that retains moisture and protects the ocular surface
  • Punctal occlusion – a procedure that involves closing the duct that drains tears from your eyes
  • Medicines prescribed by your GP for dry eye – corticosteroids or cyclosporine are used for inflammation of the cornea

Home treatments

There are also a variety of home remedies for sore, rough eyes, including:

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Over-the-counter eye drops
  • Warm compresses can help clear clogged oil glands and relieve symptoms of dry, rough eyes
  • Eyelid massages can help reduce graininess
  • Omega-3 supplements – these can be taken in pill or tablet form to help with dry eye symptoms

Preventing Hard Eyes For The Future

The following precautions can help prevent rough eyes in the future:

  • Keep air blowers or air dryers far away from your eyes.
  • Protect your eyes from dry air and high winds – wear wrap-around sunglasses when you go out
  • Give your eyes regular breaks from the screen or when reading and remember to blink
  • Don’t smoke – smoking or being in a smoky environment can make dry eye symptoms worse
  • If your eyes are not properly lubricating then you can use artificial tears.
  • Install your computer monitor in the correct position – make sure it’s below eye level. This will prevent you from opening your eyes too wide and therefore slow down the evaporation of tears.

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