I'm an eye-picker too and this is the first time I've searched on-line about it. I have to say I'm somewhat relieved to find others who do the same thing. I started around 17 and am now 43. It's caused me no end of suffering over the years, yet I've actually done very little about it. I tried a hypnotist once, asked an eye doctor about it, but mostly keep punishing myself that I do it, analyze why I do it, and hope that it will somehow end.
It's definitely stress related. What I've noticed over time is that I do it when I've got a lot on my mind and don't know what to do...or when I want to "check out" just procrastinate or not face life in general -- picking and worry go hand in hand. I notice I can go a while without doing it if I'm fully engaged in other things -- especially if it gets things on my hands. Thankfully I'm not so far gone that I'd pick my eyes after I just cooked with hot peppers or something like that.
Put on a very simplistic level, I believe it's a form of avoidance. Then one top of that comes the years of habit that gets wired in, and the body's response setting up a loop. In other words, if I haven't done it in a while but my eyes water for some reason -- smoke, chopping onions, etc. -- and I feel the strings across my eyes, it's nearly impossible to leave it alone. Though I give myself a pat on the back if I'm able to do a quick wipe to get it out of my vision and then go back to keeping my hands and mind busy on what's in front of me.
I think it's best to try to deal with it like any other habit or addiction. One day at a time -- and not concentrate on "not doing it" but concentrate on directing your attention to something else. If you go longer without doing it -- truly congratulate yourself. You've probably discovered that punishment and judgement aren't effective ways to make progress on anything. Reward, going easy on yourself, step-by-step -- and like one contributor said -- be grateful you dont' have some horrid addiction. This is a tough one, I know -- the soreness, bloodshot aching eyes, headaches, wear and tear on the face -- it's tough -- but it's not drinking or heroin or that. Keep it light - if you don't give it a lot of attention or weight - I believe it helps alot. You are more than this habit. Don't attach yourself to it and make it a big part of your identity. Hey - I think I'm feeling the help here already by just writing this. Good luck everyone.