Eye redness or red eye syndrome is the most common reason for visiting an ophthalmologist.
Red eyes are based on the expansion of vessels of the conjunctiva of the eye (the transparent film covering the eyeball), sclera (the white part of the eye) or episclera (the outer layer of the sclera). This reaction of the vessels may be caused by physical (foreign objects) or chemical agents (detergents, acids, alkalis), allergy or infectious inflammation. In addition, excessive eye strain and dry eye can cause redness.
There are many conditions that are accompanied by red eyes, among them:
- blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids);
- stye (red and painful formation at the edge of the eyelid);
- chalazion (meibomial cyst);
- complications after eye surgery;
- contact lens wear complications;
- side effects or complications of eye drops;
- dry eye disease (reduced production of tears);
- injuries such as blunt trauma or burn;
- a foreign body in the eye;
- conjunctivitis (viral, bacterial, allergic);
- subconjunctival bleeding;
- keratitis (inflammation of the cornea);
- herpes infection of the cornea;
- corneal erosion;
- corneal ulcer;
- uveitis (inflammation of the vascular layer of the eye);
- glaucoma (acute attack of closed-angle glaucoma);
- hay fever (allergic rhinitis);
- orbital cellulite (severe tissue infection around the eye);
- acute dacryoadenitis (lacrimal gland inflammation);
- acute dacryocystitis (lacrimal sac inflammation);
When should you see a doctor?
Most causes of red eye aren’t a medical emergency.
If you experience eye redness, you should see your doctor if:
- your eye turns red after an injury;
- you have a headache and blurred vision;
- symptoms last more than 1 week;
- there is visual impairment;
- you see white rings or halos around the lights;
- you feel pain in your eyes;
- there is a sensitivity to light (photophobia);
- there are nausea and vomiting;
- you have discharge in one or both eyes;
- you are taking blood thinners such as heparin or warfarin.
Complications of red eyes
Most causes of red eyes will not lead to serious complications.
If you have an infection that causes changes in your vision, it can affect your productivity and daily activity.
However, infections that aren’t treated in time, can lead to irreversible eye damage and even vision loss!
How to treat the symptoms of red eye?
If red eye is caused by diseases such as conjunctivitis or blepharitis, you can treat your symptoms at home. Warm compresses on your eyes can help reduce swelling.
You shouldn’t instill vasoconstrictor drops and wear contact lenses until the inflammation has gone away.
You should also wash your hands regularly, avoid makeup or contact lenses and don’t touch your eyes.
To moisturize the eye surface and relieve symptoms, we recommend instilling artificial tear medication.
Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe treatment to help alleviate your symptoms. Treatment may include antibiotics, eye drops and home care, as described above.
In some cases, when the eye is very irritated, your doctor may suggest wearing a patch to limit the effects of light and help the eye heal.
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