Red Eyes


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Red Eyes

October 15, 2014



Are you having problems with itchy, watery, red eyes? Many people automatically assume that they have “pink eye” but there may be something else going on.


What can cause eye redness?

There are many serious conditions that can cause eye redness and these conditions require immediate treatment. One of the more serious problems that can cause a red eye is glaucoma. This is a condition in which the pressure in one of the chambers of the eye is elevated. Glaucoma must be treated appropriately in order to preserve vision.


There are some chronic medical illnesses that cause eye problems. These can include Collagen Vascular Diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome and other autoimmune diseases. Also, eye trauma can cause one’s eye to become reddened. Other illnesses that cause eye redness include infection and allergies.


How can you tell the difference?

By taking a careful history and performing a thorough physical exam, your doctor will be able to determine the likely cause of your eye problems. You may need to see a specialist for a “slit-lamp” exam.


Why does it matter if it really is “pink eye”?

“Pink eye” is the lay term for a viral eye infection. It is extremely contagious and if you have pink eye, you should limit your contact with others to prevent transmitting the disease.


Are there other eye infections that I should worry about?

In addition to viral infections, bacteria and fungi can also cause eye infections. It is important to know what is the cause so that the appropriate medication can be used to cure the infection. Untreated eye infections can cause complications and vision loss


If I do have allergy eyes, what could be causing it?

This time of year, you may have allergy eyes. Vernal is a word that describes something related to Spring. Many of us are familiar with the “Vernal” equinox—the day in the spring when the day and night are of equal length. Some people also have “Vernal conjunctivitis” which is a medical term for “allergy eyes” that occurs in the spring also.

In early spring, it is often tree pollen that is the cause of vernal conjunctivitis. Later in spring and in early summer, allergy eyes are often caused by grass pollen. Of course, allergy eyes can occur at any time of the year. Weed pollen is a problem in the fall and of course, there are year-round allergens such as dust mites, molds and pet allergens.


If you have eye redness, you should see your doctor who will often be able to help you achieve relief. If you need to see a specialist, your doctor can recommend which specialist would be most appropriate in your situation.


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