The truth is, we don't know until we look... I know that's not what you wanted to hear, but we're going to go through a bit of information today that might make it easier for you to at least identify what's going on before you can pay our office a visit.
Red eyes are often due to inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva (the clear covering over the entire eyeball) or cornea (the transparent surface on the front of the eye). According to the American Optometric Association, the most common causes include allergic reactions, bacterial issues, and viral infections.
Because bloodshot eyes can be caused by so many different things, it is important to have all ocular redness examined by an eye doctor. Every red eye is different! I have absolutely never seen two red eyes with exactly the same presentation.
Here are just a few common causes of the look above:
Viral Conjunctivitis (what you know as "Pink Eye"): This condition is contagious! You may notice redness, watery eyes, and general discomfort. This may spread from one eye to the other over the course of a few days. There is no treatment for "pink eye" since it is viral. Frustrating, I know!
Bacterial Conjunctivitis: Often accompanied by yellow, goopy discharge. Eyelids are often stuck together in the morning. This can be treated with an antibiotic once you see us in our office.
Allergic Conjunctivitis: This condition will cause intense itching, especially in the corners of the eyes. Eyes will be watery as well. A great over-the-counter drop for itchy eyes is Alaway. Please give us a call if you're still not getting relief with Alaway.
Contact Lens Complications: There are MANY conditions that fit into this category. Some contact lens complications can be sight threatening. Symptoms are often intense redness, pain, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. Give us a call immediately!
As you can tell, an exam is essential to make sure you get the correct treatment. This does not mean you should call your nearest Urgent Care center...Our doctors are always on call and would be happy to see you, even on weekends!
Treatment definitely depends on the cause....
But there are a few things you can do to avoid problematic red eyes! The most effective prevention is good hygiene:
Wash hands thoroughly.
Do not touch your eyes with dirty hands.
Change towels and washcloths daily.
Do not use another person's eye shadow, mascara, eyeliner, or other cosmetics...Eww.
For those who wear contact lenses, follow your eye care practitioner's instructions:
Wash hands before handling contact lenses...always!
Handle contact lenses before putting on or taking off makeup.
Only use solution recommended by your eye doctor. Better yet, ask us about daily disposable contact lenses!
Don't forget to replace your contact lens case frequently!
Follow the recommended replacement schedule for your contact lenses.
I hope this article has at least shed some light on the reasons why your eyes may be angry. Any time you experience a red eye, give our office a call and we would be happy to find out exactly what's going on!