Are Your Red Eyes Allergy, Irritation or Infection?

Clear Your Red Eyes

Different Causes of Red Eyes Should Be Treated Differently

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: when you are suffering from red eyes or eye discomfort, reaching for those over-the-counter redness relief drops is not in your best long-term health interest. When used to excess, they can cause serious damage to the blood vessels in your eye, but even when used sparingly they are simply masking the symptoms that are your body’s way of telling you that something is not right. The best thing you can do for your eyes in these situations is treat the underlying cause.


Three Main Causes of Red Eyes


Allergies, infection and various types of irritation may all cause the discoloration, inflammation and discomfort associated with “red eye.” Eye irritants can range from smoke and wind to extended computer usage or improperly cared for contact lenses. Obviously, the best thing you can do to avoid eye irritation is avoid eye irritants, but when that is not possible there are plenty of ways to minimize exposure. There is a protective eyewear solution for almost any situation, whether it be safety goggles in the work shop or wraparound sunglasses for outdoor recreatio. Simple steps can also be taken to stay comfortable when working at a computer or wearing contact lenses.

If coupled with a runny nose and a scratchy throat, your itchy red eyes may be caused by an allergy. Treating eye allergies can be tricky, as many over the counter oral antihistamines work by drying out mucus membranes— including your eyes. Again, avoidance and protection are helpful, but there are also a variety of prescription oral medications and eye drops that can help you manage both indoor and outdoor allergies.


Warning Signs


When your red eye is caused by an infection, ignoring the warning signs or covering them up with over the counter redness relief drops puts you at risk for potentially long-term complications. Infections can be viral, fungal or bacterial in nature. Any sort of fungal or bacterial infection of the eye requires immediate attention. The harmful microorganisms that have been introduced to your eyeball and surrounding tissue can lead to much more serious conditions, such as corneal ulcers, which in turn can lead to permanent vision loss. Thankfully, there is a wide selection of very effective treatment options available including antibiotic and steroid drops that will clear up the underlying cause of the unsightly and uncomfortable symptoms.

When your eyes are trying to tell you something, pay attention. Especially if you have persistent redness, a simple visit to the optometrists’ office to identify the underlying cause of eye discomfort is the best way to get relief. In most cases, this will allow us to both quickly treat your current condition and give you the tools and advice to prevent a reoccurrence. Whether or not you have vision insurance, diagnostic visits such as these are covered by most major medical insurance plans, so there’s no reason to put off your eye care.