What is red-eye?
When the blood vessels on the surface of the eye become prominent or congested the eye appears to be red. It could also be a rupture in one of the small blood vessels that causes a bleed. Red-eye doesn’t always mean an infection.
So, what causes red-eye?
There are numerous causes for red-eye:
- Foreign Body
- Dry Eye
- Sub Conjunctival Hemorrhage
- Acute Glaucoma
- Uveitis and more
The most common cause of red-eyes is what is colloquially called a madras eye i.e conjunctivitis. It occurs due to a bacterial or viral infection. This not only causes red-eye it is quite painful too. You will also experience a pricking sensation and watery or mucoid discharge.
The fall of a foreign body into the eye causes red-eye, however, if left longer in the eye it may cause a corneal infection. Hence, timely removal and use of appropriate medication are crucial to prevent any further complications.
In this digitalized era where prolonged screen time for work or school is inevitable, dry eyes manifest as eye strain associated with headache and red-eyes which worsens by the day end. Insufficient sleep, rubbing of eyes, extended hours in an air-conditioned room will aggravate the problem.
With urbanisation, the allergy to dust in children and adults has gradually increased. Severe itching of the eyes, watering, and discolouration of the skin around the eyes are suggestive of ocular allergy. Continued rubbing of eyes makes it a vicious cycle. A patient suffering from ocular allergy has to absolutely stop rubbing the eyes to aid the treatment to work better.
Sub Conjunctival Hemorrhage
There are numerous tiny blood vessels on the ocular surface. Due to age-related changes, more commonly in hypertensive individuals, any of these vessels might rupture either spontaneously or due to trivial trauma like coughing or vomiting. This leads to bleeding which may be localised or diffuse.
Numerous tiny white dandruff-like particles accumulate on the eyelashes which causes irritation in the eye. This gives rise to itching and redness. Another cause for blepharitis is a bacterial infection of the eyelids in which tiny crusts build up on the base of the lashes which can be very painful.
Glaucoma is a disease in which the optic nerve undergoes degeneration due to raised intraocular pressure (IOP). This can either occur in a few hours or gradually over months. The former is more ominous known as acute angle-closure glaucoma. Due to a sudden high IOP, the patient experiences severe headache and vomiting associated with red-eye and blurring of vision.
Simply put, uveitis is like a house on fire. Uveitis generally is an inflamed eye that causes pain, redness along with an inability to open the eyes in bright light and mild to severe blurring of vision depending on the severity of the disease. Many a time it occurs without any cause but is common in patients with arthritis. It is important to get tested with blood investigations and have a scheduled usage of eye drops and systemic medication. A person with Uveitis may develop lifelong consequences like cataract and glaucoma if the prescribed drops are not used as per the schedule or miss their follow-ups
What is the treatment for red-eye?
Home remedies or over the counter medicines and eye drops may not always help all types of red-eye. A topical antibiotic drug can also cause dire consequences due to improper usage. Prompt and detailed evaluation of red-eye is very important, as some conditions may co-exist with bleeding inside the eye or hypertensive retinopathy. Conditions like blepharitis can be treated with antibiotic ointments and warm water compression, but following good eyelid hygiene is very important. Glaucoma warrants an immediate ophthalmic evaluation to salvage the vision, which may never return if ignored for even more than a day.
Consulting an ophthalmologist when you have red-eye can avoid any kind of wrong medication. M M Joshi Eye Institute, since its inception in 1967 has been an icon of advanced ophthalmic care. We are open 24/7 and welcome queries on the telephone too. Our team of experienced specialists are prepared to attend to any ophthalmic problems.