Although getting a red eye is something everyone has experienced at least once in their life, seeing ourselves with reddish eyes in the mirror all of a sudden can still take us by surprise. For the most part, this unusual reaction is harmless, generally caused by dust or allergens, and is nothing to worry about.
However, there are certain cases when inflamed eyes signal something worse and require a visit to the eye doctor. How do you know whether your red eyes are a cause for concern or not? Read on to learn the serious conditions that could cause your eyes to turn red and what you can do about them.
Common causes of red eyes
According to research, 2-3% of people go to their primary physician or visit the emergency room because of eye problems, with the majority having red eyes. The most common conditions that cause eye irritation are:
1. Allergies and dry eye
Lack of tears causes that gritty, itchy, or burning feeling in the eyes. If you’re unfamiliar with how the eye works, it has three layers of tears that serve as a protective film covering. Thus, insufficient tears may turn your eyes red and uncomfortable, particularly if they are exposed to irritants or allergens. Besides allergens, many other factors contribute to dry eye: medications, computer screen use, weather, etc. Getting red eyes also becomes more common as we age.
Thankfully, off-the-shelf lubricating drops or “artificial tears” will suffice to clear your eyes and provide them with lubrication. Allergy drops can also help reduce symptoms if the cause is allergen-based. When getting these eye drops, choose those specifically marketed to reduce redness.
Viruses, bacteria, fungi, allergies, or waterborne parasites can all cause an eye infection in your eyes, and rubbing your eyes with your hands is the easiest way to transfer the infection from one eye to the other. Pain, blurry vision, and light sensitivity are often signs that an infection is more serious and causes erosion to the eye’s surface if left untreated, resulting in permanent damage.
It is recommended you go to your eye doctor within a few days upon noticing the signs of an eye infection. If you wear contact lenses and suspect an eye infection, visit your doctor immediately.
3. Broken blood vessels
Subconjunctival haemorrhage or broken blood vessels on the eye’s surface sounds alarming, but they are generally nothing to worry about. The broken vessels are rarely painful and do not impair vision. Several reasons could cause the blood vessels to break, such as a head or eye injury, straining when coughing or sneezing, aggressively rubbing your eye and certain medications like blood thinners.
Broken blood vessels will sort themselves out and improve in a week or two, but you can always use artificial tears to relieve irritation. However, if you ever feel pain, going to an eye doctor as soon as possible is advised.
Uveitis is a condition wherein there is inflammation in the eye, and red eyes are among its visible symptoms. Other signs include pain in the eye, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and dark “floaters” in one’s field of vision. Smoking is one of the main risk factors for developing uveitis, but inflammatory diseases, eye injuries, or infections (like chicken pox or herpes) can also cause this eye condition.
It is critical to get tested by an eye doctor as soon as possible if you notice the symptoms of uveitis. Immediate treatment helps mitigate the potential tissue damage and restore lost vision.
The main symptoms connected to red eyes, namely pain in the eyes, increased light sensitivity, and blurry vision, are the stand-out potential signs of a more significant problem requiring prompt medical attention. As such, contact an eye doctor if you experience redness, unusual dryness, or other symptoms that persist for more than a day. With the MYCLNQ app, getting an online medical consultation with a certified ophthalmologist becomes as easy as pressing a few buttons on your phone, making the importance of telemedicine more obvious than ever. Contact us today to learn more about the other medical services available on the app!