How Can Eczema Affect Your Eyes and How to Prevent Complications?

How Can Eczema Affect Your Eyes and How to Prevent Complications? Oct 4, 2022 / by Complete Family Dermatology Team

When we hear of eczema, we think of red, itchy, and flaky patches on our skin. But many don't realize that it can also affect one of the most vital organs in our bodythe eyes. Those with atopic dermatitis, also known as the most common type of eczema, should be careful because it can develop around the eyes. And once that happens, it can lead to some serious eye issues. The key to eye problems caused by eczema is early diagnosis and treatment. Here's how to prevent atopic dermatitis from spreading to the eye area and what symptoms you might experience if you've developed any eye complications. 

How Can Eczema Lead to Eye Problems?

Those who suffer from atopic dermatitis are more at risk for eye diseases compared to people who don't have the condition. In addition, those with severe atopic dermatitis are more likely to develop eye issues versus those with mild atopic dermatitis. A 15-year study in Denmark confirms that the more extreme your atopic dermatitis, the higher your risk of developing eye problems. But how is eczema tied to the eyes? People with eczema are most likely allergic to various substances, and even the lining of their eyes can react to allergens. When that happens, the eyes become inflamed and irritated. A person with eczema can cause further damage to their eyes and even infect them if they're continuously and aggressively rubbing them. 

What Kinds of Eye Problems Can Eczema Cause?

Atopic dermatitis can lead to some serious eye diseases, including the following:


People with atopic dermatitis have a higher chance of contracting conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye. It's the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent and thin layer that covers the white area of our eyes. Below are some common symptoms of conjunctivitis:
  •  Pink or red eyes
  • Sticky, watery, or crusty eyes
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Light sensitivity


Atopic dermatitis can cause the cornea to protrude outwards and eventually become cone-like. This condition is called keratoconus, and it's usually the result of prolonged rubbing of the eyes. Changes to the shape of the cornea can significantly impair eyesight and even lead to permanent vision loss. Here are some common symptoms of keratoconus:
  • Blurred vision
  • Low vision at night
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to glares or bright light
  • Prescription glasses are unable to correct vision


Atopic dermatitis can cause the cornea to become inflamed or infected. Severe or untreated cases of keratitis can lead to eye complications and cause permanent damage to your vision. You must spot the signs early and make an appointment with your doctor as symptoms appear. Below are some of the most common symptoms of keratitis:
  • Uncomfortable or painful eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Watery or gritty eyes
  • The feeling that you have something in your eyes

Spontaneous Retina Detachment

People suffering from atopic dermatitis are at a greater risk for spontaneous retinal detachment. This condition is when the retina separates from the tissue supporting it. It can damage your vision or even lead to blindness if left untreated. Look out for these common signs of spontaneous retinal detachment:
  • Seeing more floaters than usual
  • Seeing light flashes
  • Peripheral vision is darkening
  • Vision is partially covered

How Do You Prevent Eye Problems When You Have Eczema?

It's crucial to pay attention to your eyes if you have eczema. Go to your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms of eye problems, and have regular check-ups if needed. Eye diseases linked to atopic dermatitis are highly curable if caught early. Keep the skin around the eyes clean and moisturized with non-drying cleansers and hypoallergenic creams. Avoid rubbing or scratching your eyes, and keep your fingernails short in case there's any contact. You can use cold compresses to relieve any itching you feel around the eye area. 

The Bottom Line

Eczema can be very challenging to control, even more so if it spreads to something as delicate as your eyes. The best plan of action is to seek the help of a professional. They can diagnose you in time and give you the proper treatment you need. For more information, contact Complete Family Dermatology at (402) 423-1111.

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