Eye redness is a common problem, and often, it’s not a cause for worry. Allergies, exposure to pollutants or other irritants, and even a common cold can all lead to eye redness. Typically, this type of redness is temporary and clears up with a little TLC.
But sometimes, red eyes can become a chronic problem. In those instances, a more serious problem could be to blame, and prompt medical care is essential to prevent complications, such as vision loss.
At Advanced Eye Center in Hialeah, Florida, Rodrigo Belalcazar, MD, uses advanced testing to diagnose and treat red eyes. In this blog, he explains some of the common causes of chronic red eyes and some of the common treatment options.
Common causes of red eyes
Eye redness typically is a sign of irritation or inflammation. When eyes are irritated or inflamed, tiny blood vessels in the upper layers of your eyes become dilated, turning the “white” part of your eye (called the sclera) pinkish. One or both eyes may be affected, depending on the underlying cause.
Common causes of temporary redness include:
- Exposure to chemicals or irritants
- Prolonged computer use
- Eye strain or “tired” eyes
- Dry eyes
- Too much sun exposure
These issues typically affect both eyes.
More serious causes of eye redness include:
- Infections, such as pink eye (conjunctivitis)
- Corneal damage, such as scratches or ulcers
- Traumatic injury
- Pterygium (corneal growth)
- Other eye diseases
Some of these issues may affect one eye — such as a scratch or another injury — while other issues may affect both eyes. Regardless, without treatment, any of these problems can lead to permanent vision loss.
Treating eye redness
Since so many issues can cause red eyes, before recommending any treatment, Dr. Belalcazar performs a comprehensive exam to determine the underlying problem. At your visit, he reviews your medical history and asks you about other health or lifestyle issues, such as allergies or exposure to smoke or irritants.
He also asks about your symptoms and whether they’re accompanied by other issues, such as itching, pain, light sensitivity, eye discharge, swelling, or vision changes. He also examines your eyelids for signs of infection or redness.
During the exam part of your visit, he looks closely at your cornea, searching for tiny scratches or other damage or infection. Then, he uses a special lamp to view the inner part of your eye, including your retina. He also uses a special instrument to painlessly measure the pressure inside your eye, which is a common test for glaucoma.
Based on what your exam reveals, he recommends treatment, which might include:
- Allergy medication
- Medicated eye drops
- Lubricating eye drops
- Oral medicine for infections or glaucoma
- Antibiotics for infections
- Lifestyle changes to avoid irritation
In some instances, he recommends minimally invasive treatments to improve eye drainage or address other chronic causes of red eyes.
Don’t ignore your red eyes
If your eyes are chronically red or irritated, it can be tempting to try a little home care with over-the-counter eye drops. But that’s not a good idea. Many types of eye redness — even types that aren’t very problematic at first — can eventually cause more serious problems.
If you have red eyes, scheduling an eye exam is the best way to make sure your treatment is designed to protect your eyes and your vision. To schedule your exam, call 305-707-6011 or book an appointment online with Dr. Belalcazar today.