Red eye is one of the foremost common ophthalmologic conditions we encounter in daily clinical practice. Inflammation of the conjunctiva, cornea, lacrimal glands and eyelids, or faulty tear film can cause red eye.
The commonest cause of red eye is conjunctivitis. Other causes are injury to the conjunctiva, blepharitis, corneal ulcer, foreign body, iritis, scleritis and chemical injury. Increased usage of screen time, which is sort of common nowadays, is additionally one of all the main causes of red eye. Glaucoma like angle-closure Glaucoma may also end in the painful red eye.
The patient usually complaints of:
- Discharge from eyes
- Watering of eyes
Once the patient visits an Ophthalmologist with complaints of red eye, detailed history with reference to the duration of complaints and associated symptoms are noted. The patient is subjected to Vison assessment, intraocular pressure measurement to rule out Glaucoma and slit lamp evaluation to rule out the reason for red eye.
If the reason behind the red eye is Viral or Bacterial conjunctivitis, the patient is prescribed topical antibiotic eyedrops. Allergic conjunctivitis, which is associated with redness, itching and irritation, is treated by prescribing antihistamine eyedrops and tear substitutes.
Removal of corneal foreign body employing an anaesthetic eyedrop relieves the patient’s red eye and irritation. Corneal ulcers are often treated using antibiotic /antifungal eyedrops after ruling out the aetiology of the ulcer.
Iritis and scleritis usually subside with topical steroids and antimuscarinic eyedrops. Computer vision syndrome, which occurs following increased screen time, also leads to red-eye and is treated by prescribing topical lubricants.
Subconjunctival Haemorrhage, which occurs due to injury, Hypertension, a sudden bout of cough, usually resolves on its own within three to four weeks.
Using eye drops called artificial tears or eye drops containing an antihistamine may help to cut back redness. It is best to avoid eye drops for red eyes because they increase redness with prolonged use. Avoid rubbing and touching the eyes. Wash your eyes with cold water.
When to contact your doctor
- See a doctor immediately if you
- Experience changes in vision
- Become sensitive to bright light
- Feel as if something is in your eye
- Can’t open or close your eye
- Also have headache, nausea or eye pain
- Have redness that lasts longer than 7 days
- Develop thick or almost continuous discharge
Patients usually try home remedies like applying castor oil inside the eye and removal of the corneal foreign body using pins which may lead to infections and inflammation of ocular structures. Hence should be strictly avoided.
Red eye can be due to a variety of causes and finding out what the cause is important for the treatment. Red eyes associated with blurring or diminished vision need to be examined by an Eye specialist at the earliest.