Sore Eyes: Causes + 14 Home Remedies And Prevention Tips

Practical hacks and tips to help prevent eye damage and improve vision effectively.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Bhakti KapseDr. Bhakti Kapse, MBBS
By Shaheen NaserShaheen Naser  • 

If your eyes feel gritty, weary, and tender, you may benefit from home remedies for sore eyes. Sore eyes or eyes that ache may have a number of reasons behind it. However, conjunctivitis is the most prevalent cause of painful eyes. Bacterial and viral infections, as well as allergic reactions are other possible reasons.

Bacterial conjunctivitis generates sticky discharge, while viral conjunctivitis causes red, itchy eyes with watery discharge. On the other hand, allergic diseases cause the eyes to feel as if they have a foreign body in them.

Antibiotic drops and ointments are the most popular treatments for irritated eyes. However, if you prefer natural solutions, we’ve got you covered in this post. Remember, if the problem lasts more than a week, you should see an eye doctor right away.

Causes Of Sore Eyes

The causes of sore eyes are:

  • Sun exposure
  • Eye infections
  • Excessive eye rubbing
  • Exposure to airborne irritants
  • Contact lenses
  • Incorrect glasses
  • Viral infections such as cold
  • Overexposure to the TV or laptop screen
  • Dryness due to reduced blinking or dehydration

Viral infections, such as pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, are the major cause of sore eyes. However, they are not the only cause.

Sore eyes could also occur due to an eyelid infection, commonly known as cellulitis, or viral cold.

People with dry eyes are more prone to experiencing sore eyes due to dehydration.

Physical stress from staring at the TV or laptop screen for long and mental stress can also lead to sore eyes.

Symptoms Of Sore Eyes

Woman with sore eyes

Image: Shutterstock

The most obvious symptoms of sore eyes are :

  • Dryness of the eyes
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Irritability of the eyeballs or eyelids
  • Pain in the eyeballs
  • Watering of the eyes
  • Blurred vision

Many experience a dry, gritty feeling that makes them want to rub their eyes constantly. If you experience any of these symptoms along with red eyes, see a doctor immediately.

Discomfort, burning, eyelids stuck together, difficulty in opening your eyes after waking up, sore lymph glands, sore throat, and a runny nose are some other not-so-obvious symptoms that could be a sign of sore eyes.

The question is, is there a way to find relief from sore eyes? Yes, there is. Not just one, but many easy, natural methods to give your eyes some rest. Keep reading to know more about them.

Home Remedies For Sore Eyes

  1. Cold Compress
  2. Cucumber
  3. Aloe Vera Gel
  4. Castor Oil
  5. Rose Water
  6. Apple Cider Vinegar
  7. Milk And Honey
  8. Baking Soda
  9. Potato
  10. Coriander
  11. Epsom Salt
  12. Guava Leaves
  13. Calamansi
  14. Turmeric Eyewash

1. Cold Compress

The coldness of the ice pack will soothe the irritated and sore eye and reduce the burning sensation (1).

You Will Need

An ice pack

What You Have To Do

Place the ice pack on the sore eye for 4-5 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat 2-3 times in a day.

  • Use a frozen food item wrapped in a clean, soft cloth and place this over the sore eye.
  • Dip a washcloth in cold water and place it on the eye.
  • Place a metal spoon in the freezer for a couple of minutes and place this cold spoon on the affected eye.
  • Place a used tea bag in the refrigerator for a couple of minutes. Place the cold tea bag on the sore eye. You can use a green tea bag, black tea bag, chamomile tea bag, or even rooibos tea bag for sore eyes. An added benefit of using a tea bag is that the antioxidants present in it can accelerate the healing process. They also have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the swelling often seen in sore eyes (2, 3).

2. Cucumber

Woman with cucumber slices on eyes

Image: Shutterstock

It is a known fact that cucumber has a cooling effect on our body (4). It has the same effect on our eyes as well. It soothes the eyes and heals any soreness or irritation. It can also help lighten dark circles and soothe puffy eyes.

You Will Need

  • 2 cucumber slices
  • Cold water

What You Have To Do

  1. Soak the slices in cold water for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Place this on the eyes for 10 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this as and when required to provide relief from the soreness.

3. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera has an extremely relaxing effect on your eyes because of its soothing properties. Eye drops containing aloe vera extracts can help treat inflammation in the eye (5). Aloe vera gel can also help manage dry eyes (6).

Caution: Use only fresh or organic aloe vera gel. Commercial variants may contain additives that can irritate your eyes.

You Will Need

  • 1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
  • 1-2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 cotton balls

What You Have To Do

  1. Dilute fresh aloe gel with cold water.
  2. Soak the cotton rounds in this and place them on the eyelids for 10 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2 times a day.

4. Castor Oil

Castor oil is a common ingredient that is found in many eye drops. It has a soothing effect on your eyes and can help reduce eye irritation. Studies show that castor oil helps improve tear stability, prevents evaporation of tears, and has a lubricating effect on dry eyes (7). This may help ease the symptoms of sore eyes.

You Will Need

  • Organic and pure castor oil
  • A dropper

What You Have To Do

  1. Using a clean dropper, administer a drop of castor oil to each eye.
  2. Leave this in overnight.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this every night and also once again during the day.

5. Rose Water

Rose water is a well-known home remedy for relieving eye soreness and tiredness. A herbal eye drop preparation containing rose water extracts as one of the ingredients was found to improve ophthalmic disorders like conjunctivitis, dry eye, and cataractsi  XA condition where the natural lenses of the eyes become cloudy, causing blurry and hazy vision, especially in aged people. (8).

You Will Need

  • Rose water
  • Cotton

What You Have To Do

  1. Dip the cotton in the rose water and squeeze out the excess.
  2. Place this on the closed eyelid and leave it on for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Use chilled rose water for best results.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2-3 times in the day.

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

This remedy can give instant relief from eye soreness caused due to infections. ACV has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties (9). These properties can help fight the infection-causing bacteria.

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Cotton balls

What You Have To Do

  1. Soak a clean cotton ball in a mixture of vinegar and water.
  2. Place it on your eyelids for 10 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this 1-2 times a day.

7. Milk And Honey

Honey is known to possess antibacterial qualities and can treat dry eyes (10). The warmth of the milk will soothe the irritation and inflammation.

You Will Need

  • 1 teaspoon warm milk
  • 2-3 drops honey
  • A dropper

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix the honey with the milk.
  2. Pour a drop or two of this mixture into the affected eye with a clean dropper
  3. Keep your eyes closed for a couple of minutes.
  4. Rinse the eye with clean water later.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2 times a day.

8. Baking Soda

Baking soda for sore eyes

Image: Shutterstock

This process helps in cleaning your eyes and flushing out any impurities that may have entered them. Baking soda is also an antiseptic that kills the infection-causing microbes present in and around the affected area (11).

You Will Need

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Water
  • A cup or a glass

What You Have To Do

  1. Take a cup or glass that can fit around your eye.
  2. Add the baking soda to it and fill it with water.
  3. Hold the eye over this water and try to keep it open for as long as possible. Try and roll your eyes around for a minute or two.
  4. Rinse out the baking soda water remnants with plain, clean water.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this once a day until the infection and soreness are cured.

9. Potato

Potato helps reduce any sort of eye inflammation (12). You can also use potato peel to rub on the irritated skin, as it possesses anti-inflammatory properties (13). This will reduce the swelling and soothe the skin around the eyes.

You Will Need

  • A potato
  • Cotton pad

What You Have To Do

  1. Peel and grate the potato.
  2. Squeeze out the juice and pour it over the cotton pad.
  3. Place the soaked cotton pad on the affected eye for 15 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat once every day, preferably at night.

10. Coriander

Coriander is commonly used in Ayurvedic medication for eye infections and soreness (14). A study showed that coriander seeds extract (10-15 drops of coriander spray) could help relieve itchy eyes (15).

You Will Need

  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • An eye dropper

What You Have To Do

  1. Grind the coriander leaves to extract the juice out of them.
  2. Now, take the eye dropper and suck in this liquid. Pour two drops each into both the eyes.

Although you can limit using this solution only for the infected eye, it is advisable that you pour the eye drops in the non-infected eye as well as a precautionary measure.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this 2 times a day.

11. Epsom Salt

Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties (16). This can help relieve inflammation and soothe your eyes.

You Will Need

  • 1 teaspoon Epsom salt
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • Cotton rounds

What You Have To Do

  1. Add the salt to the hot water and mix thoroughly until it dissolves.
  2. Once the temperature becomes warm and bearable, soak the cotton round in this and place it over the eye.
  3. Leave it on for 5-7 minutes. Rinse your eye (and face) with cool water.
  4. Pat the skin dry and apply a mild moisturizer around the eye to prevent the skin from drying up due to the salt.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this 1-2 times a day.

12. Guava Leaves

This remedy can help treat sore eyes caused due to infections. Guava leaves possess antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesici  XThe property or drug that helps relieve pain without the need for numbing the nerves or altering sensory perception. properties (17). They help reduce irritation, swelling, and pain around the eye.

You Will Need

  • 4-5 guava leaves
  • A glass of water
  • A soft facecloth

What You Have To Do

  1. Boil the guava leaves.
  2. Dampen the facecloth and place the warm guava leaves in between to make a hot compress.
  3. Place this on the infected eye for 10-12 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat every day until the eye infection goes away.

13. Calamansi

Calamansi (or calamondin) is a citrus fruit hybrid that is commonly known as the Philippine lime. Calamansi possesses antimicrobial properties (18). This can help clear the infection in the eye and reduce soreness.

Caution: The juice can sting due to its citric nature. This is completely normal.

You Will Need

  • 1-2 drops calamansi juice
  • 3-4 drops warm water

What You Have To Do

  1. Dilute the calamansi juice with water and pour a drop or two into the affected eye.
  2. Roll the eye a few times and then rinse the juice out with plain water.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this once a day.

14. Turmeric

Turmeric for sore eyes

Image: Shutterstock

Turmeric contains curcumin that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies showed that curcumin had beneficial effects on several eye diseases, like dry eye syndrome, glaucomai  XA group of eye diseases that causes optic nerve damage and loss of vision due to excess pressure in the eye. , and age-related macular degeneration (19).

You Will Need

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 glass water
  • A dropper

What You Have To Do

  1. Heat the water until it is warm and then add turmeric powder to it. Mix well.
  2. Administer a drop of this mixture to the affected eye.

How Often You Should Do This

Use this remedy 2 times a day.

Apart from using these sore eyes home remedies, the one thing you need to do to keep your eyes healthy is sleep well. When we sleep, our body gets rejuvenated, and we feel refreshed when we wake up. This also applies to the eyes. They are in constant use the entire time you are awake, and hence, giving them sufficient rest is important. Get 6-8 hours of sound sleep every day.

If the above remedies do not provide relief from sore eyes even after continued use, consult your healthcare provider to test for any serious underlying condition. Here are some alarming symptoms that require immediate medical help.

When To See Your Doctor

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:

  1. Pus coming out of your eyes
  2. Sudden blurry vision
  3. Seeing light or illusionary lights
  4. Difficulty in moving the eyeballs

Some more tips are given below.

Prevention Methods And Tips For Sore Eyes

(a) Wearing Sunglasses And Goggles

When you step out of your house and into the sun, always remember to wear UV protection sunglasses. Also, if you happen to be a swimmer, make sure to wear goggles when you enter the pool to prevent the chlorine from affecting your eyes as chlorine tends to make your eyes itch and has also been known to make them red and puffy.

(b) Drink Lots Of Water

Your eyes need to be kept hydrated, and this can be easily done by drinking plenty of water. During the summer months, water helps in not only cooling your body but also energizing it. This also improves your immune system.

(c) Follow A Healthy Diet

Another important factor is a healthy diet. A wholesome, nutritious diet can keep you stress-free and your eyes healthy. Consume foods rich in vitamin A and vitamin C. These support eye health and enhance immunity, respectively.

A few vitamin A-rich foods are eggs, cod liver oil, broccoli, spinach, yellow fruits and vegetables like carrot, papaya, pumpkin, and mango.

Vitamin C-rich foods are citrus fruits like lemon, sweet lime, oranges, grapes, and kiwi and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and capsicum.

(d) Do Eye Exercises

Do simple eye exercises every day to keep the muscles in and around your eyes strong. Exercising them also relieves strain.

Quick Tip
Place your palms gently over your eyes for 30 secs. You can also visualize the infinity symbol about 10 ft in front of you and trace it slowly.

(e) Don’t Give In To Stress

A large number of eye-related illnesses are caused due to mental stress. Lack of proper rest and sleep are the major factors behind the increased levels of stress. That is why you must give your body and mind a break. Sleep for at least 8 hours every day to keep stress at bay. Practicing yoga and meditation also helps.

(f) Relieve Physical Stress

We use our eyes every millisecond we are awake. While looking at normal surroundings is alright, when you continuously stare at a screen, like computers or TV screens, your eyes experience physical stress.

Give your eyes a break by looking elsewhere at a far-off point for a few minutes, now and then. If there is a tree or a shrub around, you could look at it too. The color green is said to soothe the eyes.

Quick Tip
Make sure you repeatedly blink to lubricate your dry eyes naturally. You can opt for saline-based OTC eye drops as well.

If you don’t find relief from sore eyes after using the above-mentioned home remedies, consult your healthcare provider immediately. Try out any one of them or a combination of them to relieve the symptoms of sore eyes.

Contact emergency medical help if you experience severe pain associated with foreign body lodgement, chemical injury, and burn injury. Some symptoms need immediate attention, like severe pain, photophobiai  XA condition characterized by sensitivity to light, where one's eyes experience discomfort in bright light. , headaches, halos around light, high fever, and sudden vision changes.

Infographic: 6 Home Remedies To Treat Sore Eyes

Your eyes can be sore due to various reasons, such as infections or allergies. Antibiotic drops and ointments are easily available, but if you prefer natural remedies, we have handpicked the ones readily available on short notice. Check out the infographic below to find out more!

6 home remedies to treat sore eyes (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

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Download Infographic in PDF version

Sore eyes may stem from multiple causes like sun exposure, contact lenses, infections, eye rubbing, dryness, excess screen exposure, and viral infections. Redness, irritability, blurry vision, and watering are common symptoms that may accompany sore eyes. Applying home remedies for sore eyes like cucumber, cold compress, guava leaves, potato, milk and honey, apple cider vinegar, etc., may provide relief quickly. However, you need to contact your healthcare provider immediately if you notice any serious symptoms like pus formation, difficulty moving the eyeballs, difficulty seeing, or illusionary lights in your sight.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do sore eyes last?

Sore eyes last for a couple of days after the initial symptoms appear, depending on the cause. The time taken for healing sore eyes also depends on the intensity of the infection.
Conjunctivitis could be bacterial, chlamydiali  XAn infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis that is related to or leads to STD or other infections. , or viral, depending on which the period of healing is defined. Patients who are old or have low immunity, diabetes, and malnutrition could take up to 20–25 days to recover.
If proper medical care is taken and hygiene is maintained, sore eyes could heal much faster than the stipulated time.

Is a sore eye contagious?

Yes, sore eyes are contagious when the condition is caused due to an eye infection.

How can sore eyes be transmitted?

Sore eyes can be a result of an infection, such as conjunctivitis, that could be chlamydial, bacterial, or viral, which leads to either unilateral or bilateral red eye infection.
Sharing the same utensils, towels, and clothes and shaking hands with the infected person can make you contract the infection.
Also, having health issues like malnutrition or low immunity increases the chances of contracting the infection. The transmission also depends on the kind of infection one has.

Is a sore eye a sign of pregnancy?

Though a sore eye is not essentially a sign of pregnancy, many women experience dryness of eyes, vision problems, and irritable eyes all through pregnancy, which could result in sore eyes.

What is the fastest way to treat sore eyes?

Follow your healthcare provider’s advice by taking your medications on time. Avoid rubbing your eyes or staring at digital screens for more than 20 minutes straight. Giving enough rest to your eyes also helps.

What can I wash my sore eyes with?

You may use salt water to rinse your eyes or flush them with cool water. You can also place a cold cloth over them for a while.

The cause of this is associated with the hormonal changes that occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy.

Key Takeaways

  • Use the cold compress method to instantly relieve your sore or swollen eyes.
  • Soap a cloth in warm water infused with Epsom salt and gently press on your eyes to reduce the soreness.
  • Prolonged sun exposure, rubbing your eyes too much, or an eye infection could be common causes of getting a sore eye.
  • Try chamomile tea, which helps reduce inflammation and soothe your eyes.


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