Most of us have had reddish-looking eyes from time to time due to allergies, smoke exposure, or other temporary causes. But eye diseases and other problems can also cause eye redness.
At Advanced Eye Center in Hialeah, Florida, Rodrigo Belalcazar, MD, has years of experience diagnosing the causes of eye redness and providing appropriate treatment. Here's what you should know about red eyes.
The “whites” of your eyes
When you look at your eyes, you probably see three different areas: your pupils, your irises (the colored part surrounding each pupil), and the white sclera, a tough, supportive membrane that wraps all the way around to the back of your eyeball. The sclera contains a network of tiny blood vessels that provide oxygen and nutrients to parts of your eye.
When your eyes look reddish or pinkish, it’s usually because these tiny veins are irritated, inflamed, and dilated. Sometimes, the network of veins is visible, giving your eyes a “bloodshot” appearance, while at other times, the entire sclera can have a pinkish hue.
Your sclera can appear reddish for different reasons, some of which are benign (harmless) and some of which can be quite serious. Understanding these possible causes is important, so you can get treatment right away if it becomes necessary.
Why eyes get red
Sometimes, eyes can get red due to easily identifiable external factors, such as airborne pollutants, allergies, or contact lens wear. But, other causes can be harder to identify. If you don’t know what’s causing your eyes to be red, an eye exam can help determine the source.
Other causes can include the following:
- Dry eye
- Eye injuries, including corneal scratches
- Eye infections
- Eye diseases, such as glaucoma
- Digital eye strain
- Too much sun exposure
While some of these issues may clear up over time, other, more serious issues, can worsen, leading to permanent vision loss and other symptoms.
When to seek treatment
Since so many issues can cause eye redness, how can you tell when it’s time to make an appointment? Well, first of all, it’s always advisable to see Dr. Belalcazar if redness is accompanied by certain symptoms, such as:
- Blurry vision or other changes in vision
- Eye injury
- Eye pain
- Sensitivity to light
You should also call the office if redness lasts for more than a few days or if symptoms get worse.
As far as treating red eyes, Dr. Belalcazar optimizes treatment plans depending on what’s causing your symptoms. Your treatment might include:
- Eye drops
- Eye ointments
- Prescription eyewear (or a change in your current prescription)
- Lifestyle changes, including resting your eyes
- Allergy medications
- Medications to treat eye diseases
In most cases, you’ll come back for a follow-up visit to make sure your treatment is effective in providing relief.
Don’t ignore your red eyes
Red eyes aren’t normal, and while some causes can be temporary and benign, others may need medical attention to help your eyes stay healthy. To learn what’s causing your red eyes — and how we can treat them — call 305-874-0115 or book an appointment online with Advanced Eye Center today.