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Why are my eyes red?

Red eyes are common symptoms for many people. Many eye conditions cause the eyes to irritate or become infected. The symptoms alongside red eyes vary regarding eye conditions. Some common symptoms include itching, burning, increased tearing, unusual discharge, etc. If you are experiencing red eyes, what conditions might be the culprit to your problem? 

Symptoms of red eyes

A red eye can manifest different degrees of infection or disease, depending on the accompanying symptoms. The symptoms you experience might give you an idea of what is causing your eye condition. Some symptoms include:

  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Unusual discharge (mucus or pus)
  • Blurred or change in vision
  • Swollen eyes
  • Eye pain
  • Gritty feeling in the eye
  • Light sensitivity 
  • Headache 

Eyes conditions that might lead to red eyes

1. Blepharitis 

Blepharitis is the irritation along the edges of eyelids. This common disease usually occurs when the eyes are often exposed to allergic origins such as polluted air, pollen, or products applied to the eye areas. The inflammation might disappear when you keep regular good hygiene and care for your eyes. However, if the condition becomes chronic, you might experience excessive dryness or tearing, chalazion, injured cornea, eyelash falling out, etc. Make an appointment with your doctor if you meet those severe eye conditions. 

2. Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

Pink eye happens when the conjunctiva – the membrane that protects your eyes, becomes infected by bacteria, injuries, or irritants. Though highly contagious and irritating, the condition usually does not lead to severe complications. Your doctor might prescribe antibiotic eye drops for the treatment. If you are wearing contact lenses, you might need to stop wearing them as soon as you see any signs of red eyes. If you experience more serious conditions in the eye areas, such as eye pain, blurred vision, etc., you might need to seek urgent medical care. 

3. Subconjunctival hemorrhage

A subconjunctival hemorrhage happens when some blood vessels are damaged, giving some blood spots on the eye’s surface. Coughing, sneezing, straining, or eye trauma are some of the common actions that cause subconjunctival hemorrhages as they raise suddenly high blood pressure in your veins at a quick speed. Subconjunctival hemorrhage usually heals on its own after a few days or weeks without treatment. However, you might need to be careful in case of recurrent subconjunctival hemorrhage or unusual bleeding. 

4. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition that occurs when the optic nerves, which connect the brain to the eyes, get damaged. Eye redness is one of the first signs of glaucoma when fluid is blocked from circulating through the eyes, increasing the pressure on the nerves. This eye emergency is known as angle-closure glaucoma. More severe symptoms can cause the loss of vision.

5. Corneal ulcer 

Corneal ulcers are eye infections with bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites, causing open sores on your cornea. When the cornea becomes infected, nearby blood vessels enlarge and swell. At that time, inflammatory cells will rush in to help fight the infection and cause red eyes. If the condition is left untreated, it can lead to vision loss.

Treatment and Prevention

Remedies for red eyes caused by environmental factors. Some of the remedial measures in this case may include:

    • Warm compress: Dip a clean towel or gauze in warm water, then place it over your eyes for about 10 minutes. This act helps regulate blood flow. You should use separate towels/gauze for each one of your eyes.
    • Cold compress: If warm compresses are not effective, cold compresses can be used. Dip a clean washcloth/gauze in cold water, then it to your eyes to temporarily relieve the symptoms of red eyes. In addition, it helps reduce swelling and itching caused by irritation. 
    • Stop using contact lenses and avoid dusty, polluted environments.
    • Keep good hygiene and care of the eyes.
    • Have a healthy diet. Drink enough water every day and limit processed foods. 

Remedies for red eyes caused by eye diseases:

    • With red eyes caused by bacteria or viruses, if you experience any intense symptoms or the symptoms do not heal, you should see a doctor for examination and get the most appropriate treatment. Some symptoms, if left untreated, might lead to severe complications, such as vision loss. 
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