Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder why your eyes look so red? Often the redness appears even when there is no discomfort. There can be many causes of red eye, most of which are not a serious health concern. Some red eye, however, especially when accompanied by discomfort or the result of an accident can be serious. It’s important to understand the various causes of red eye and when it makes sense to consult your eye doctor.
Several types of red eye are the result of Environmental Factors. These can often be managed with eye drops, antihistamines and in some cases a change in eye glasses.
- Dry eyes (can be environmental or medical condition)
- Computer Vision Syndrome
- Workplace hazards
Often red eye can be the result of Lifestyle Choices and can be managed accordingly. Since most of these choices can lead to a multitude of other health issues, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the best course of action. As for red eye related to swimming, wearing goggles and never wearing contacts in the water are two important preventative measures. If you experience red eye due to contact lens wear it may be due to inadequate cleansing. Your doctor may also recommend a change to daily wear or gas permeable lenses built to minimize irritation.
- Smoking cigarettes
- Smoking marijuana
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Lack of Sleep
- Contact Lenses
Medical Conditions triggering red eye often require the most immediate treatment.
- Conjunctivitis: the most common type of eye infections. It is very contagious, if you think you or your child has conjunctivitis you should visit your eye doctor immediately
- Blepharitis: inflammation of the eyelash follicles along the eyelid. It is caused by skin bacteria. Itching is common, and your eyelids may appear greasy or crusty
- Corneal Ulcer: Infections of the cornea, including a corneal ulcer, are potentially sight-threatening and should be treated as an emergency. In addition to red eyes, corneal ulcer symptoms almost always include eye pain, reduced vision and eye discharge.
- Ocular Herpes: Also called eye herpes, this is a recurrent viral infection caused by the type 1 herpes simplex virus — the same virus that causes common cold sore
- Uveitis: An inflammation of the middle layer of the eye (uvea), uveitis typically is characterized by red eyes, light sensitivity and visual disturbances such as floaters and blurry vision.
- Eye Injury/Trauma: Eye injuries can range from minor eye scratches (corneal abrasions) to deep puncture wounds and chemical burns. Whatever the source, always treat an eye injury as a medical emergency and see an eye doctor immediately.
- Acute glaucoma: a sudden increase in eye pressure that is extremely painful and causes serious visual disturbances. This is a medical emergency. Most times, glaucoma is chronic and gradual not acute
Practical Tips For Preventing Red Eye:
- Don’t rub your eyes — Dirt on your hands can cause even more redness and irritation. Plus rubbing, could cause you to scratch your cornea.
- Practice good contact lens hygiene. Contacts and contact lens cases can act as a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, so follow instructions about cleaning and replacing your contacts.
- Speak to your doctor about allergy medications to help keep allergies at bay.
- Take a break from looking at the computer screen and follow the 20-20-20 rule: look away from your computer every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
- Schedule an exam with your Denver eye doctor to rule out more serious causes of red eyes such as eye disease or a sight-threatening infection.
- Don’t over-use “whitening” eye drops — they can make your eyes redder over time!
How to Use this Information:
If you have recently begun to experience red eye symptoms or have had them for a while and not been diagnosed, you may want to consult your Colorado eye care specialist to rule out any potentially serious causes and get advice on treatment. Most red eye is not an emergency, but it can still be uncomfortable and unattractive, so it is worth speaking with your doctor to see if there are preventative or treatment options you should be considering. At Vision Care Specialists our Denver Eye doctors are trained to detect all causes of red eye and treat them effectively. Call us today at 303-991-9600 or request an appointment online.