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Why Does It Feel Like Something Is in My Eye?

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young girl shows a chalazion on the eyelid closeup

Feeling a foreign sensation in your eye can result from a variety of things, especially if there’s nothing noticeable in your eye. Dry eyes and inflammation of the eyelids are common causes of feeling that foreign sensation. Your eye doctor can help figure out your eye concerns through a comprehensive eye exam.

Dry eyes and inflammation aren’t the only causes of this sensation—other eye conditions and issues can contribute. Let’s explore why you may be feeling something in your eye. 

Navigating that Foreign Feeling in Your Eyes

Feeling anything in your eyes, whether that be dust or an eyelash, always brings a feeling of discomfort. But if the cause of your eye discomfort is something like dry eyes, it can be even more frustrating to find relief. 

Dry eyes, also known as dry eye syndrome, occur when your eyes don’t produce enough tears, or those tears are evaporating too quickly. Dry eye syndrome is usually caused by the inability of the tear film to lubricate the eye properly. 

Your tear film consists of 3 layers

  • The oily outer layer
  • The watery middle layer
  • The inner mucus layer

Any instability in the tear production process can lead to the development of dry eyes. Your tears are responsible for preventing infections by washing away foreign matter and keeping the surface of your eyes clean. 

Some common signs and symptoms of dry eyes can include: 

  • A feeling of something being in the eye
  • A gritty, scratchy, or burning sensation
  • Irritation
  • Excess watering
  • Blurred vision

Lifestyle changes like adjusting your environment with a humidifier and avoiding dust, wind, and smoke can help manage dry eyes. Your optometrist can also recommend treatment options to help you find relief. 

A close-up of a young man using his hand to rubbing eyes after feeling itchy because of conjunctivitis.

Other Causes of Feeling Something in Your Eye

Dry eyes and eye inflammation aren’t the only reasons you may be feeling something in your eyes. There are other eye conditions that can contribute to feeling that foreign sensation in your eyes.

Corneal Abrasions

Corneal abrasions, or damage to your cornea, can cause you to experience feeling something in your eye. Anything from scratching your eye or other injuries can make you feel like there’s something in your eye, even though nothing is there.

Other symptoms of corneal abrasion can include sensitivity to light and blurry or hazy vision.


Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, occurs when there is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the front of your eyes.

Common signs and symptoms of conjunctivitis include: 

  • Foreign body sensation
  • Itching
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Tearing 
  • Inflamed eyelids


Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids in which they become irritated, red, and itchy, with dandruff-like scales appearing on the eyelashes. 

The inflammatory nature of blepharitis can cause a foreign body sensation and result in feeling something foreign in your eyes.

Other common signs and symptoms of blepharitis can include: 

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Crusting of the eyelids
  • Tearing 


A chalazion is a lipid-filled growth inside the eyelid. It commonly starts off as a painless lump but can affect your vision and become inflamed with time. A chalazion can also cause that feeling of something being in your eye due to its inflammation properties. 

Corneal Ulcer

A corneal ulcer is an open sore on your cornea. Ulcers can be caused by severe dry eyes or bacterial, viral, parasitic, and fungal infections.

Common signs and symptoms of a corneal ulcer can include: 

  • The feeling of having something in your eye
  • Tearing
  • Redness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Swelling of your eyelids

The common theme with many of these eye conditions is their inflammatory nature and how that can affect your eyes. 

Finding Relief from Discomfort

Feeling anything in your eyes can result in a strong feeling of discomfort. Whether you’re dealing with dry eyes or other eye conditions, your eye doctor can help you find relief following a comprehensive eye exam. 

Book an appointment with our eye care professionals at Charles Korth Optometry to understand why you feel like something is in your eye.

Written by Total Vision

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