4 Things You Should Know About Eye Redness


If the whites of your eyes have turned red, you may feel embarrassment or even alarm. While most cases of eye redness involve temporary, minor irritation, you should understand what that redness can mean and what to do about it. Keep the following four points in mind.

1. Eye Redness Can Have Many Causes

Allergens, tobacco smoke, pollution, heavy alcohol consumption, and an eyelid inflammation called blepharitis can all cause temporary eye redness. An eye infection can also cause conjunctivitis, better known as pinkeye. Redness may also occur if your eye suffers an injury or develops broken blood vessels.

Many people suffer from dry eye syndrome. This problem can cause a combination of symptoms that include eye redness, itchy or sore eyes, light sensitivity, and bouts of blurred vision. Windy conditions, allergic reactions, and long hours of computer use can give you dry eye syndrome.

2. Some Red Eyes Require Medical Evaluation

While eye redness doesn't necessarily spell trouble, in some cases it may signal a serious underlying condition or the need for a professional evaluation. For instance, severe conjunctivitis can contribute to corneal damage, while bright-red eyes accompanied by sharp pain might indicate a relatively rare problem called angle-closure glaucoma.

Talk to your eye doctor if your eye redness lingers for more than a week. If you also experience nausea, pain, eye swelling, a fever, a thick discharge from the eye, or changes in your vision, see an ophthalmologist immediately so you can find out the underlying causes and receive potentially sight-saving treatment.

3. Decongestant Drops Can Worsen Eye Redness

Some over-the-counter eye drops can help reduce many cases of redness by hydrating and lubricating the eyes. Others contain decongestants that shrink swollen blood vessels to eliminate redness temporarily. However, you shouldn't get into the habit of using decongestant eye drops for extended periods.

Excessive use of decongestant eye drops can result in a problem known as rebound redness. If you develop rebound redness, your eye redness may grow worse instead of better. For this reason, you should only use them for 72 hours at a time. If you have glaucoma, you shouldn't use decongestant eye drops at all.

4. Home Remedies and Lifestyle Changes Can Help

If you want to avoid eye redness, consider lifestyle changes that reduce your eyes to irritating conditions. Steer clear of your known allergy triggers, don't drink excess alcohol, shield your eyes against wind or the chlorine in pools, and take frequent breaks from eye-drying computer use.

A mild case of conjunctivitis can heal by itself with the aid of some home care measures. Warm compresses can soothe irritation, while eye drops can keep the eye hydrated. Avoid rubbing the affected eye.

Try these adjustments to your everyday routine if you struggle with occasional eye redness. If preventative measures and home remedies can't resolve the redness, schedule an appointment with your doctor to receive a proper diagnosis and any necessary medical care.

For more information, talk with an eye doctor.


24 January 2023

Learning About Eye Exams

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