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Eye Redness: Causes, When to See a Doctor, and Treatment

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Eye redness is a fairly common problem that can affect either one or both eyes. When the eye is either infected or irritated, it often leads to inflammation of the blood vessels of the eyes. The swollen or dilated blood vessel causes the surface of the eye to look red. Oftentimes, the inflammation occurs in the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin membrane covering the sclera (white part of the eye) and the eyelid lining. There is a wide variety of causes of red eyes. Eye redness is often no cause for medical emergency. However, sometimes, they are caused by serious conditions, which need medical treatment immediately.

Pink eye is another term for red eye, but pertains to bacterial and viral infections of the conjunctiva, sometimes, also caused by allergy.

Causes of Eye Redness

The following causes are conditions commonly associated with eye redness. To receive an accurate diagnosis, seek medical attention.

  • Dry eyes
  • Conjunctivitis (inflammation of conjunctiva), either bacterial or viral
  • Blepharitis (inflammation affecting eyelids)
  • Scleritis (inflammation of sclera)
  • Iritis (inflammation of iris, the colored part of the eye)
  • Uveitis (inflammation of the eye’s middle layer)
  • Keratitis (inflammation of cornea)
  • Corneal abrasion (scrape of the cornea)
  • Corneal ulcer
  • Foreign object in the eye
  • Sty (red, painful lump near edge of the eye)
  • Cold or allergies
  • Acute glaucoma

When to See a Doctor with Regard to Eye Redness

If one experiences any one of the following symptoms, it may be time to call for an ambulance.

  • Blurred vision or double vision in one or both eyes
  • Loss of vision
  • Severe headache
  • Redness due to penetrating injury
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Nausea and vomiting

If one experiences any one of the following symptoms, it may be time to seek for medical advice.

  • Eye redness persists for one to two days
  • Eye pain
  • Changes in vision
  • Presence of foreign object in the eye
  • Photosensitivity
  • Yellow or greenish discharge
  • Pink eyes

Treatment for Eye Redness

If eye redness is due to medical conditions, it can be treated at home after Eye Rednessprompt medical advice. But for eye redness not accompanied by pain, several home remedies can be tried to treat eye redness. However these home treatments should not be taken as medical advice or as a substitute for first aid training.

  • Cold compress
    • Apply five minutes, twice daily
    • For constriction of blood vessels in the eyes
    • May use frozen vegetable packs
    • Artificial tears
      • Best for dry eyes
      • Follow instructions given by manufacturer
      • Antihistamine
        • For eye allergies or eye redness accompanied by itching and tearing
        • Follow instructions given by manufacturer
        • Vasoconstrictors
          • To constrict blood vessels of the eyes.
          • For the meantime, avoid wearing contact lenses and eye makeup. Also, avoid touching the eye.

To learn more about how to apply first aid for eye redness and other eye injuries, register in First Aid Courses.

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