"My eyes are irritated" or "My eyes are irritating"?

On Ngram much more people say "irritated eyes" than "irritating eyes".

Googling "My eyes are irritated" returns 24k results (Link)

Googling "My eyes are irritating" returns 40k results (Link)

I would say "My eyes are irritated" does not make sense because only human can feel, human's eyes can not feel. (we say "I am very excited because the film is very exciting")

"My eyes are irritating" sounds better because it is making the man irritated.

So, "My eyes are irritated" or "My eyes are irritating"?

  • 2
    Look up irritated in a dictionary. Also, please add the meaning you want to convey.
    – user3395
    May 21, 2017 at 13:31
  • 1
    A perfect example of why ngrams are often meaningless. Is this interesting? Are you interested in this? If your eyes are irritating, you are bothering someone.
    – Lambie
    May 21, 2017 at 15:47

3 Answers 3


my eyes are irritated
my eyes are uncomfortable and hurt

my eyes are irritating
my eyes are annoying someone

Usually your eyes, themselves, will not irritate someone, however staring will.

My eyes are irritated.
My eyes are irritating me.

would basically have the same meaning that your eyes are bothering you, the first by implication, the second by direct mention


The eyes have nerve endings that relay information to the brain. In this way, our eyes do feel, and "my eyes are irritated" is quite logical.

▶ Dust particles in the air irritate my eyes. My eyes are irritated.

My friend's cat cuddles up to me only when I'm wearing sunglasses. My eyes must be irritating.


In AmE, "irritate" is most often transitive, although a few speakers use are irritating to mean "are getting irritated" or "are having irritation".

{This chemical} subj irritates v.t. {the eyes} object.

The noun for the resulting state is irritation.

The predicate adjective formed from the past participle is irritated.

The adjective irritating and the progressive form of the verb irritating mean "causing irritation".

My eyes are irritated because I was working with that chemical, which is irritating to the eyes.
-- What is the name of the chemical irritating your eyes?

The relatively rare intransitive use where it means "to become irritated" or "to have irritation":

My eyes are irritating a lot lately. They are always itchy and tearing.

Normally, we'd see the reflexive "My eyes are irritating me..." which would be analogous to "My knee has been paining me lately".

  • A different take: "Irritating" can mean causing someone to become angry or upset. "My eyes are irritating" could mean that you are bothered by some characteristic of your eyes, say relating to their appearance.
    – fixer1234
    May 21, 2017 at 19:37
  • Yes, but the eyes example (rather than a stuck zipper example, say) suggests that the OP's question is about the physical malady, not the "ticked off, irked" meaning.
    – TimR
    May 22, 2017 at 10:26

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