Treating sunburned eyes or eye allergies

Eye Doctor Baltimore MD

You know that gritty feeling in your eye when it feels like something’s in it or it just feels rough and scratchy? If you have gritty eyes, contact Clarity Eyecare and we’ll get you back to more comfortable vision.


Gritty eyes can be caused by a number of eye conditions and diseases, such as allergies, dry eye, blepharitis, and sunburned eyes.


One of the most common causes of gritty eyes is a condition called dry eye. As a person ages, the eye ducts’ tear production slows down. A lack of tears causes the eyes to become dry, itchy, and uncomfortable.

Another symptom of dry eyes is grittiness. Our patients describe grittiness as a feeling that there’s a foreign substance in their eye, or it’s as if there’s a tiny fleck of sand in the eye that causes a scratchy, rough sensation. Either way, it’s an uncomfortable experience. It can also cause some eye difficulties such as blurry vision, inflammation, or frequent infections.


Blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelid, is a condition caused by a skin disorder or a bacterial infection. A patient with blepharitis typically experiences red and itchy eyes as well as a general irritation of the eye area. Grittiness of the eye is also a symptom.


Did you know that your eyes can get sunburned? While we usually think of a sunburn as reddened skin that hurts and then starts to peel during the healing process, your eyes can also be affected by sun rays.

When you are overexposed to UV radiation, the cornea at the front of the eye can develop a sunburn. The first sign of sunburned eyes is when the sclera, the white part of the eye, appears bloodshot. You may notice a sudden sensitivity to light and feel a gritty sensation in your eyes. Soreness and blurry vision can also occur with sunburned eyes.


Although not a direct cause of gritty eyes, seasonal allergies can trigger dry eye and grittiness. Allergic reaction to pollen, dust, pet dander, or mold can cause allergic conjunctivitis. This often results in red, watery, itchy and swollen eyes, symptoms that can also occur in patients with dry eyes.


The key to treating gritty eyes is first understanding the cause.

For dry eyes, Dr. Howai (Jenny) Chan may recommend using artificial tears to lubricate the eyes to relieve the gritty, itchy feeling. Prescription eye drops may increase the eye’s natural tear production. In some cases, steroids can be prescribed for more immediate short-term relief of symptoms.

If your gritty eye sensation is from blepharitis, a simple way to alleviate the uncomfortable feeling is to keep your eyelids clean. Use a warm compress to soften the eyelids and gently wash away any eye crust formations. Using a light cleanser such as baby soap to clean the area lightly is also effective.

In case of a bacterial infection, the eye doctor may give you a prescription for antibiotic drops or ointments, or steroid drops in more severe cases.

For sunburned eyes, eye drops can often offer relief by moisturizing the eye and soothing the burn. In some cases, anti-inflammatory drops may be prescribed. The gritty feeling from the sunburn often fades on its own in a few days. If the grittiness and discomfort lasts more than 2 days, contact Clarity Eyecare immediately.

The Clarity Eyecare office is located in the Lake Falls Village shopping center in the Mount Washington neighborhood in Baltimore. We serve Roland Park, Hampden, Towson, and other local areas. Book an eye exam today and let us help you achieve long-term clear and pain-free vision.

See With Clarity
  • (410) 553-5778
  • 6080 Falls Rd Ste 104,
    Baltimore, MD 21209
  • Mon - Fri: 10am - 6pm
    Sat: 10am - 4pm
*Closed For Lunch 1pm - 2pm
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