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Common Causes and Types of Red Eyes

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Red Eyes: What are They?

Red eyes usually occur after your eyes experience dryness during winter and aggravated by allergies that usually sprout in Springtime. However, red eyes can happen all-year round.

At first, an eye appears as colored pink, typical of a benign state. Then, it may grow redder each day and more uneasiness can be felt. If you happen to feel you have red eyes, then, the best go-to person is an optometrist.

 5 Most Common Conditions that Cause Red Eyes

1. Dry Eye Syndrome

One of the most common causes of red eyes, especially in the winter, is dryness. Typical symptoms include burning and foreign body sensation, excess tearing, and sharp pain that improves with blinking. This condition usually affects both eyes and can last from months to years.

Dry eye syndrome is widespread because of numerous many contributing factors, including a deficiency in tear production and quality, lifestyle (dry climate, allergens, smoking, and prolonged computer use), certain medications (especially anti-allergy) and diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

Dry eye syndrome often emerges as a side effect of certain surgical procedures, most commonly LASIK. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms be sure to see us at Trillium Eye Care, as prolonged dryness of the eyes can cause damage to the cornea leading to blurred vision and infections.

2. Stye (Hordeolum)

A stye develops when the oil glands that line the eyelids get infected or inflamed. A lump with eyelid swelling and tenderness that can last for up to two weeks characterizes a stye.

Styes are typically unilateral, and even though most resolve without any complications, in rare cases, the inflammation completely engulfs the eyelids which leads to a serious condition known as preseptal cellulitis.

3. Viral and Bacterial Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Red eyes are often a sign of a highly contagious infection, either bacterial or viral. These infections are usually spread by hand-to-eye contact, especially in young children. Common symptoms include redness, irritation, discharge, and tearing. Most acute cases do not last more than 4 weeks, they often being in one eye and then spread to the other.

In these cases, personal hygiene is crucial including the washing of hands, towels, and pillowcases to prevent spreading. It is important to visit an Optometrist if you are experiencing “pink eye” in order to obtain a proper diagnosis and anti-microbial eye drops.

4. Allergic Conjunctivitis

We consider allergic conjunctivitis as a non-infectious condition that involves itching, tearing, redness, and sometimes swelling of the eyelids. This condition often occurs in people with known environmental and medication allergies. If you are experiencing these symptoms visit us at Trillium Eye Care for a proper diagnosis and treatment with anti-allergy drops.

5. Contact Lens Abuse

Contact lenses are a very popular method of vision correction and provide a great alternative to wearing glasses when used as directed by your Optometrist. Washing the hands before handling contacts, changing the solution each time, and replacing the case monthly are essential in preventing eye infections.

However, sleeping with your contacts on increases your chances of developing eye infections by 10X! In such cases, the eyes will be red, irritated, and will produce either clear or colored discharge. In the worst case scenario ulcers can develop on the cornea that can potentially cause blindness.

If you are experiencing these symptoms visit us at Trillium Eye Care immediately for a proper diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics.

Lisjen Puka,OD

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