Red eyes are unsightly, uncomfortable, and can indicate something as common as allergies or indicative of an eye condition that, if left untreated, could lead to loss of vision. The expansion of tiny blood vessels causes redness and are often accompanied by itching, burning, grittiness, tearing, or discharge.
Common causes of red eyes
Conjunctivitis or “pink eye” can be caused by bacteria, viruses or allergens. Both bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are very common and very contagious. If conjunctivitis doesn’t clear up on its own in a few days, antibiotics may be required.
Dry eye syndrome occurs when tear quality or quantity does not lubricate the eye. Dry eye symptoms include grittiness, redness, stinging, burning, discharge, pain, and the sensation of something in the eye. Dry eyes are caused by antihistamines and decongestants, age, rosacea, autoimmune disorders, hormone changes, environmental factors, seasonal allergies, or excessive screen time. Dry eye syndrome can be managed with the help of your eye doctor.
A painful growth on your eyelid’s inner or outer part usually indicates the presence of a stye, causing irritation and pain that can lead to redness. Styes are caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus infecting the oil glands in the eyelid. Inadequate handwashing, failure to remove makeup, and the use of unhygienic makeup products increase the chance of developing a stye. If the stye does not resolve on its own within a few days, make an appointment with your eye doctor.
Allergic conjunctivitis is one of the leading causes of eye redness, often accompanied by itching, burning, tearing, and swelling. Antihistamines help to relieve the symptoms of red eyes caused by seasonal allergies.
Red eyes often occur from the over-wearing or improper care of contact lenses. Bacteria buildup can irritate the eyes. Keep contact lenses clean and change them as prescribed to reduce irritation.
Excessive time in front of a computer screen can cause eye fatigue. To ease the strain, take a break every 20 minutes and focus on something 20 feet away, work in an area with good lighting, sit a reasonable distance from the screen, use an LCD screen, and set the screen brightness to match the brightness of your workspace.
Eyelashes, sand, and dust are foreign objects that can cause redness in your eye. Wash the affected eye with an eyewash solution or use a cotton swab. For large foreign objects, contact an eye care professional.
Bleeding caused by a broken blood vessel under the conjunctiva is a subconjunctival hemorrhage. This type of hemorrhage is often caused by sneezing and does not usually require treatment. In most cases, the redness goes away within two weeks.
Corneal abrasions are one of the most common eye injuries. The scratch can cause discomfort, light sensitivity, redness and affect vision. Lubricating eye drops and antibiotic eye drops are used for treatment. Superficial corneal abrasions usually heal within three days. If not, see an ophthalmologist.
An open sore causes a corneal ulcer on the cornea of the eye. Chemical or physical trauma, contact lens misuse, and scratches can compromise the cornea allowing bacteria to enter. Eye redness, discharge, a feeling of a foreign object, and pain are typical symptoms. Untreated, a corneal ulcer can lead to loss of vision or blindness.
Glaucoma is caused by excessive pressure in the eye and affects the optic nerve. It can cause vision loss or blindness. When the eye becomes red, the cornea swells, vision is blurred, or you see halos, it has progressed to acute glaucoma and is considered a medical emergency.
Uveitis occurs when the middle layer of the eye is inflamed due to disease or trauma. Symptoms include redness, decreased vision, pain, light sensitivity, and increased floaters. Corticosteroid, immunosuppressive drugs, and anti-inflammatory medication are standard treatment protocols.
Scleritis or inflammation of the white part of the eye is prevalent in patients with an autoimmune disorder, can be caused by eye trauma, fungus or a parasite. Symptoms include redness, blurred vision, tearing, sensitivity to light, severe pain, and tenderness, resulting in loss of vision or blindness.
If redness persists for an extended period, make an appointment with an ophthalmologist at New Vision Eye Center.