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When someone sees redness in your eye, it does not mean your vision is turning red. When you have red eye without pain, there can be many common causes that are not serious. Often, it can be prevented with home care. Other names for red eye are pink eye and bloodshot eyes.
If there is pain in the eyes, there could be a serious problem. If it is merely itchy or a feeling of dry scratchiness, it’s more likely to be less serious. If you have a sharp, aching or throbbing pain, or a pain that seems to get worse in response to light, you should see a doctor right away, as it might be something serious. If you notice eyesight changes or other symptoms like headache, sensitivity to light, feeling sick or vomiting with the red eye, be sure to seek professional help.
When you have red eye it is usually that the whites of the eyes appear bloodshot because of changes to the blood vessels that supply the membrane covering the front of the eye. A membrane called the conjunctiva covers the front of the eye and lines the eyelids. The blood vessels of this membrane can dilate and cause the eyes to appear reddened. Usual reasons for this are:
- Infection, for example with bacteri
- Allergic reaction
An increase in pressure inside the eye is a rarer problem that can also cause the red eye. Most of the time it is from conjunctivitis. This is an inflammation of the surface of the eye and has several different causes. Bacteria or viruses can cause conjunctivitis and quite often is accompanied by a discharge. This discharge will usually be stickier in cases involving bacteria. This infection can be associated with the common cold or flu and usually spreads very quickly to affect both eyes. Some conjunctivitis is cause by an allergy that is often seasonal. Even physical irritation, like an object in the eye or chemical irritation, can be the cause. Be certain to bathe your eyes with water immediately if a chemical is splashed into the eye.
If your conjunctivitis does not clear up on its own, an antibacterial eye drop prescription might be needed from your ophthalmologist or doctor. Bathe the eye with plain, warm water, use good hygiene and don’t wear contact lenses until the red eye clears. Also, women should avoid all eye make up until the problem is cleared up.
Those with allergies can use these tips to avoid triggering their red eye:
- Keep clothes washed regularly
- Change pillowcases
- Bath or shower before bed
- Other common conditions that might cause red eyes are:
Some serious reasons for red eye that need attention are corneal scratches or abrasions, uveitis, and glaucoma. If there is any pain in the red eye, if it’s sensitive to light or comes with more general symptoms, quick medical attention is important. Don’t take chances with your eyesight!
-Dr Fredda Branyon