Last updated on November 3rd, 2017
What is red eye? How can I heal watery red eyes? What are the causes for red eyes? Are there means I can use to get rid of my red eyes? In this discussion, apart from focussing on causes of red eye we shall delve into symptoms of red eyes, what to do for itchy eyes, how to treat red eyes as well as preventive measures.
- What causes red eyes?
- 1. Allergic conjunctivitis
- 2. Bacterial conjunctivitis infection – Acute form
- 3. Chronic Chlamydial conjunctivitis
- 4. Dry eyes & Dry Eye Syndrome
- 5. Hormonal changes in Menopause
- 6. Ageing
- 7. Environmental Factors
- 8. Certain Laser eye surgery and Medications
- 9. Eye Injury – Surgery, Abrasion and Chemical Burns
- 10. Blocked tear duct
- Other Causes of Red Eyes or Redness in Eyes
- 1. Blepharitis
- 2. Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1
- 3. Corneal Herpes or Ocular Herpes?
- 4. Non-allergic Bloodshot Red Eye
- 5. Red Eye Contacts – Overused contact lens
- 6. Poor Hygiene of Contact lens & Bacterial Keratitis
- 7. Cold and flu
- 8. Conjunctival Haemorrhage
- Red Eye Diagnosis – Differential Diagnosis
- Red eye effect or Natural Red Eyes?
- How to cure red eyes – Best Medicine and Eye Creams to Get Rid of Red Eyes
- Best Eye Drops for Red Eyes Patients, Ointments + Creams
- Alaway Antihistamine eye drops
- Advanced Eye Relief eye drops
- Antihistamine OptiPranolol® Eye Drops for Glaucoma
- Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Emulsion
- GenTeal Gel Ointment
- Olopatadine Hydrochloride Ophthalmic for Allergic Conjunctivitis
- How to treat Acute Bacterial Conjunctivitis
- How to clear red eyes at home – Get Rid of Red Eyes at Home
- How to Prevent Red Eyes – DOs & DON’Ts
What causes red eyes?
Red eye concept is not confined to a single definition because there are various causes of eye redness.
1. Allergic conjunctivitis
One of the most common cause of eye redness is allergic conjunctivitis. What really causes red eyes is entry of foreign substances (allergens) into your eyes leads to irritation. As a result the conjunctiva is stimulated to release histamine (a chemical substance) to help fight off the unwanted foreign substance. Victims commonly have burning red eyes that itch and sometimes are watery.
Some of the allergens are pollen from grass, trees and some plants; moulds, strong perfumes, animal skin, smoke and certain eye drops.
2. Bacterial conjunctivitis infection – Acute form
Secondly, as opposed to allergic conjunctivitis, bacterial conjunctivitis is brought about by bacterial invasion of the conjunctiva. These bacteria get their way to the body via the sinus or the ear.
During the onset of acute bacterial conjunctivitis, bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa cause swelling of the eyelid, and pus-like discharge of thicker, yellow-green small discharges released from one eye but may transfer to the other eye.
3. Chronic Chlamydial conjunctivitis
Now, chlamydial conjunctivitis is mainly caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. This bacterial conjunctivitis normally affect new-born babies who are exposed to the chlamydia bacteria during natural birth. Common symptoms in new-borns include may be eye redness, swollen eyelids and watery discharge in first week after birth. How is the bacteria spread? Chlamydia trachomatis is spread through the following means:
- Sharing with an infected red eyes patient (make-ups, washcloths – handkerchiefs, towels, e.t.c.)
- Sexual contact with someone who is infected with trachoma,
- Touching your eyes with hands after attending to an infected person
Both of the bacterial conjunctivitis are contagious especially in the US and is prevalent among people who are less than 25. It may be necessary to go for diagnosis of gonorrhoea, trachoma, syphilis and other STIs testing.
4. Dry eyes & Dry Eye Syndrome
How do dry eyes cause red eyes? Under certain conditions tear glands may produce little tears and when this occurs the eye ball is not sufficiently lubricated. This leads to inflammation and irritation of the conjunctiva because eye lids cannot open and close normally in absence of tear film. Very painful red eyes is also be a usual sign. A few conditions and factors are known to result in dry eye syndrome:
5. Hormonal changes in Menopause
Hormones stimulate tear production. However, during the menopause or pregnancy period there occurs hormonal changes that render women susceptible of dry eye syndrome.
As you grow older eye lids become droopy and less effective. This proves why there are many common dry eye syndrome cases in aged people, than young. Old age contributes to ectropion is a condition where the eyelids turn outward leaving the eyes exposed. Dryness results as more evaporation occurs.
7. Environmental Factors
A combination of environmental factors (hot blowing air during sunny and windy weather) dry climate and other factors such as high altitude have an influence on drying eyes.
8. Certain Laser eye surgery and Medications
After certain types of laser eye surgery e.g. LRS – Laser Refractive Surgery and Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) some patients start to show symptoms of dry eye syndrome. Eye treatments involving antihistamines, beta-blockers, and oral contraceptives may result in reduced tear production.
At critical stages, chronic dry eye develops and is inflamed, to the extent that irritation is so high that you see dry red eyes. This condition is also contributed by overusing contact lenses where normal tear flow is interfered with. Overusing contact lenses also restricts amount of oxygen supplied to the cornea.
9. Eye Injury – Surgery, Abrasion and Chemical Burns
A number of actions may lead to eye injury.
One, is to do with corneal abrasion. You find that minor eye scratches rubs off layers of the cornea, (the transparent cover of your eye). These injuries are commonly caused by someone poking by finger, walking into a tree branch with sharp twigs, careless removal of soft lenses and use of old contact lenses. The signs and symptoms of corneal abrasion include:
- acute pain in the eye,
- being uncomfortable in bright lights,
- a foreign-body sensation,
- too much squinting,
- production oftears,
Corneal abrasions may result in trauma and eye dryness if it is not attended to in good time. Treatments such as topical antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are recommended.
The second cause is chemical burns. It could either be an acid or alkali. Alkalis are typically worse than acidic burns because they lead to an elevated pH in the eye. A mild acid burn will cause eye conjunctivitis. During diagnosis, a litmus paper is useful at verifying a pH that is within the normal range of 7.0 – 7.2.
Local anaesthetic eye drops can be used to relieve pain or an irrigation treatment with Ringer’s lactate or saline solution will be given which aims at reducing the pH of the eye. People who suffer chemical burns should desist from touching their eyes as further inflammation is likely to occur.
Cosmetic Eyelid Surgery
Another cause of eye injury is when cosmetic eyelid surgery is operated to treat an infection cause of red eye. How about the red eye? Blood capillaries relax and dilate to allow more oxygen to reach the target point in eyelid. In response, there is an inflammation. Eyelid surgery also known as Blepharoplasty that involves removal of droopy upper or lower eyelids is responsible for dry eyes.
10. Blocked tear duct
What causes watery eyes in toddlers and many infants after birth is blocked tear ducts. The occurrence of this condition could be attributed to nature of tear ducts to fail to develop well, or due to an abnormal growth of nasal bone. These structures (tear ducts) help in regulating, directing secreted tears and channelling out efficiently.
The aged and older people whose eyelids have started to sag tear more often. Why it? The eyelids no longer can hold back tears from flowing. Otherwise, you are urgently required to seek help from a professional if you start to experience the following symptoms:
- Blurred and poor vision
- Pain around your eyes
- Feeling presence of foreign material inside eyes
Other Causes of Red Eyes or Redness in Eyes
Other red eye causes include:
Simply refers to inflammation of eyelids or part of the eyelids as a result of bacteria. How can it bring about irritation and cause red eye? The region near the eyelashes have oil secretion glands. Certain conditions force the glands to get clogged. Due to this fact the eyelids close and open with difficulty.
Bacterial Blepharitis – Anterior & posterior Blepharitis
Bacterial blepharitis is caused by Staphylococcal aureus bacteria which affects the anterior/posterior part of the eyelid. Symptoms include burning a foreign body sensation, eyelashes may also get removed.
Apart from the very common symptoms namely – watery eyes, red eyes, swollen and red eyelids other signs are:
- Itching eyelids,
- Formation of crusts on the eyelids – evident in the morning after sleep,
- Greasy eyelids,
- Blinking too often,
- Light sensitivity,
- Irregular/abnormal growth of eyelashes,
- Eyelash loss or broken eyelashes.
Blepharitis may be complicated if what cause red eyes in anterior blepharitis is linked to demodex (microscopic harmless mites). Posterior blepharitis occurs due to a problem with the Meibomian glands, found on the inside edge of eyelids. Either excessive oil is produced or a blockage of oil ducts that cause irritation. The blocking is said to be due to a skin condition called rosacea whereas seborrhoeic dermatitis may be associated with excessive oil.
Your doctor can prescribe drugs for bacterial blepharitis or you may use topical antibiotics medicine available over the counter.
2. Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1
Herpes simplex virus Type 1 can cause eye infections. For instance, patients who are living with HIV have a weakened immune system and this provides a favourable internal environment for HSV-1.
Symptoms include redness of the eye cornea, eye ache or pain, difficulty when opening the eyes in bright light (photophobia), watering of the eye and blurry vision. These signs usually appear during the secondary infection. However, there may never be observable signs during the primary infection.
Treatment for viral conjunctivitis due to HSV-1 is applying antiviral eye ointment such as Aciclovir ointment or Ganciclovir gel will be used to stop the virus from spreading. Note the viruses do not get killed but are stopped from multiplying further until the infection goes away.
3. Corneal Herpes or Ocular Herpes?
Eye infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) type 1 may lead to partial vision problems if the virus spreads deep into the cornea. You should be careful to see signs and symptoms. When you start to have much sensitivity to light, eye redness, swollen eyes, eye pains or watery discharge, see your doctor immediately for diagnosis and test.
4. Non-allergic Bloodshot Red Eye
Did you wake up one morning and found out blood red eyes? Red bloodshot eyes is a condition where the blood vessels beneath the white eye swell, expand and redden. Why? It is because of the small dust particles, or other similar material present in one eye or both.
5. Red Eye Contacts – Overused contact lens
You are most likely to have red eyes if you exceed the exact time meant for your soft eye lenses. Wearing your contact lenses for longer than the recommended period can cause irritation and discomfort. Never extend the specified period of contact lens use. Ensure you discard them and get new package.
6. Poor Hygiene of Contact lens & Bacterial Keratitis
Extra care is needed for the contact lens users. If your contact lenses are not cleaned, and rinsed using disinfecting solutions, the biggest risk is accumulation of microbes which definitely end up in the eyes. Further on, bacterial keratitis – red eyes disease – develops because of recurring infections. As a cautionary action immediately see an ophthalmologist doctor to remove your contact lenses.
7. Cold and flu
What causes watery eyes in the morning is mainly cold and flu. Eye redness, sneezing and coughing are red eye symptoms of cold and flu. Use of herbal products and natural fruits helps to fight germs and reduce symptoms. You can swallow Beechams all in one tablets, strepsils and syrups to reduce fever, headache and coughing. Avoid areas with congestions and large crowds so as to prevent catching it.
8. Conjunctival Haemorrhage
In certain rare situations your eyes may turn red in that a blood vessel bursts beneath the sclera without your conscience thus not easy to realise. In most cases this is a condition that does not require any treatments.
Red Eye Diagnosis – Differential Diagnosis
What are some of the diagnosis procedures of red eyes? Where is differential diagnosis applied?
First, Conjunctival scrapings are commonly used in diagnosis of bacterial conjunctivitis where Gram stain is useful for identifying bacterial characteristics. These conjunctival scrapings are acquired by using special tools during the process of diagnosing the species of bacteria that cause it. Giemsa stain is applied in screening and studying causes of red eye bodies of Chlamydia.
Chlamydial Conjunctivitis – Diagnosis
Cultures can be completed for chlamydial conjunctivitis diagnosis, and other bacterial infections as well as for viral agents. However, cultures are not necessary except for the case of known fungal contamination of a contact lens solution or a corneal ulcer.
How does viral diagnosis differ from bacterial tests? The cellular response in conjunctivitis differs according to the cause, for example after differential diagnosis of viral infections the lymphocytes are found out to be predominant.
Dry Eye Diagnosis
During diagnosis of dry eye the following techniques may be used.
Volume measure tears – In carrying out this diagnosis the Schirmer test is put into practical use. A blotting paper strip is placed under lower dry eye patient eyelids where measurements are taken from.
Tears quality. Your doctor checks out for corneal eye condition using test eye drops in order to detect any unusual changes.
Red eye history examination. Overall health of your eye health can help your doctor diagnose the cause of your dry eyes.
How is Herpes Simplex Eye infection diagnosed?
Since the cornea is transparent, a doctor easily uses clinical stain and views it under a magnifier. In case the doctor notices a small ulcer erosion on the cornea urgently visit an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).
Red eye effect or Natural Red Eyes?
Didn’t you know red eye effect is a phenomenon in photography? It produces really red eyes especially the pupil. Occasionally it happens when there is live performance on stage while flashes of camera operators come too close to eyes now and then. Have a glance at red eye effect pictures captured below. NOTE: Some people have natural red eyes.
How to cure red eyes – Best Medicine and Eye Creams to Get Rid of Red Eyes
Is there best cure for red eyes? Cure for your eye distinctly vary with the cause. This section entails the methods of treatment for patients with different forms of red eye diseases.
Oral Azithromycin for Chlamydial conjunctivitis
According to a clinical study and official reports by [www.nature.com], “Since the early 1990s, several studies have been reported that single doses of oral azithromycin are effective in the treatment of trachoma.”
The conclusions reveal oral azithromycin treatment of Chlamydial conjunctivitis was well tolerated by all patients. A ‘two weekly doses of oral azithromycin were effective and well tolerated in the treatment of chlamydial conjunctivitis.’ This is the best medicine for red eyes in new-born babies who test positive for Chlamydial conjunctivitis.
Treatment of Scleritis
Treating scleritis involves administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Most of
Diclofenac 50 mg is an oral medicine administered orally 3 times daily. If symptoms persist in people with red eyes they should be referred to ophthalmologists for further diagnosis and therapy.
There are a number of brands of NSAIDS medicine which are found over the counter:
- Acular LS,
- Voltaren Ophtha
Best Eye Drops for Red Eyes Patients, Ointments + Creams
Are you stranded because you wonder how to choose accurate substance meant for people with red eyes? You must get diagnosis tests by optometrists or opticians so that you are sure what eye drops you need for your quicker healing.
Alaway Antihistamine eye drops
In case you are frustrated by irritation from pollen, animal dander or hair get Alaway Antihistamine Eye Drops. These eye drops which give relief to people with red eyes have a bit long-lasting effect to your itchy eyes. You can carry out daily activities without problems from sunrise to sunset.
Advanced Eye Relief eye drops
Those dry eyes, burning eyes and irritating eyes need Advanced Eye Relief™. They are the best eye drops for irritation and dryness; but if you are in dire need of instant relief go for Advanced Eye Relief™ Redness Instant Relief. In addition it contains substantial moisturizing ability to ease out constant uncomfortable dry eyes.
Antihistamine OptiPranolol® Eye Drops for Glaucoma
These eye drops contain blockers – Betanol, Disorat, and Trimepranol. It is the ability to rapidly metabolize that make OptiPranolol more effective in curing serious eye condition like glaucoma. “The prescription eye drop OptiPranolol® is designed to help decrease the pressure in the eyes.” [www.eyehealthweb.com]
Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Emulsion
Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Emulsion 0.05% is a Restasis, an approved eye drop specifically designed to help chronic dry eyes. “RESTASIS® is indicated to increase tear production in patients whose tear production is presumed to be suppressed due keratoconjunctivitis sicca.” [www.allergan.com] Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is a type of chronic dry eye disease. Administration of artificial tears is important but remember to consistently pay visit to your doctor for regular check-up and therapy.
GenTeal Gel Ointment
You should consider GenTeal Gel Ointment for severe dry eyes because you will find it helpful in reducing dry eye effects. Generally if you opt for over the counter OTC creams for dry eye check out to see those with these ingredients:
Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, Polyethylene Glycol or Polyvinyl alcohol. They have high moisturising ability that dry red eyes are in need of.
Olopatadine Hydrochloride Ophthalmic for Allergic Conjunctivitis
It is difficult to absolutely avoid the sources of allergens. It is better for you to go for anti-histamine eye drops, non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory ointments over the counter. But the best eye drop for red eyes patients who suffer from allergic conjunctivitis is olopatadine hydrochloride ophthalmic solution. This ophthalmic solution has a strong and safe anti-allergic power hence recommended to cure allergic irritation of the conjunctiva.
How to treat Acute Bacterial Conjunctivitis
There are three or more categories of drops and ointments for treating acute bacterial conjunctivitis. The best cure belongs to the first group as follows:
- Ciprofloxacin eye drops/Ofloxacin eye ointments,
- Levofloxacin drops,
- Moxifloxacin, Gatifloxacin, or Besifloxacin eye drops,
- Tobramycin 0.3% drops
- Gentamicin 0.3% drops
- Erythromycin 0.5% ointment
- Azithromycin 1% solution
Other groups of eye treatment are Bacitracin ointment, Neomycin, Polymixin B and Sulfacetamide.
How to clear red eyes at home – Get Rid of Red Eyes at Home
Suffering from constant red eyes can be so annoying. If you desperately need to know how to relieve red eyes at home, here are some of best natural and home remedies for red eyes. These remedies include natural herbs with medicinal qualities. To begin, the following are tips to follow when using some of the natural herbs.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is efficient in fight against the bacterial infections which trigger irritation and eye pain. The following is the procedure:
- Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water.
- Dip a clean cotton ball in the solution and use it to rub and then clean your eyes.
Rose Water and Cucumber
Get rid of red eyes by getting better of cooling effect of rose water and content in cucumber and efficiently reduce puffiness in eyes and swollen eyes.
- Prepare few small chips of fresh cucumber.
- Dip a cucumber slice in rose water.
- Lie on a horizontal position and then place them over your eye lids.
- Place 2-3 drops of rose water in your eyes.
- Place a cucumber in cold ice box/refrigerator for about 15 minutes.
- Slice it up.
- Keep one slice over each eyelid for a while until you start feeling warmth.
How to Prevent Red Eyes – DOs & DON’Ts
What are some of the preventive strategies I can use at home? How do I prevent viral conjunctivitis?
Like any other contagious infections it is important to prevent transmission of viral conjunctivitis to get control of it. By ensuring that both patient and care provider wash hands thoroughly and avoid touching the infected eye. In addition avoid sharing towels, linens, and other cosmetics. Patients who have been infected with pink eye disease are advised to stay away from school and work until it is well contained.
Eye Contacts, Hygiene, Handling & Care
Before you can think about handling contact lenses, you MUST consider hygiene to prevent keratitis when wearing contact lens. Bacteria and germs are transmitted indirectly to your eyes through unclean hands.
- WASH your hands using recommended soap solutions and thoroughly rinse your hands.
- Clean each lens singly by placing a few drops of cleaning solution then rub the lens gently one at a time. Recommended solutions:
DAILY CLEANER, HYDROGEN PEROXIDE SOLUTION, SALINE SOLUTION,
- Rinse properly the lens again to remove remains of any eye secretions: OR
Follow the intended purposeful cleaning techniques given by the manufacturer.
- Clear your lens holder by disposing of the previous solution.
- Refill the holder afresh and carefully place the lens.
- Use similar procedure 3 – 6 for the other lens.
CAUTION: Don’t go swimming with your eye contact lenses to avoid recurring keratitis infection.
Always remove soft eye lenses before sleeping.
Reduce Screen exposure Time
During watching, the tear film around the eyeball is exposed to air more as we tend to blink less often. The logic behind it is greatly associated with hormones that help and trigger tear secretion. For you to prevent eye dryness and itching, you must cut back the number of hours you spend watching TV or operating on computer monitors, iPads, tablets and mobile phones. This will reduce reddening of eyes.
A good care for eyes starts with a balanced diet. If stop red eyes and prevent them you should stick to a regular balanced diet. Foods that are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids keep your body to defend against many micro-organism infections. Consider to exclusively take fish (e.g. salmon), eggs, milk and dairy products.
Also include Vitamin B12, B6, vitamins C and E to get rid of red eyes causes. Supplement your main diet with strawberries, broccoli, oranges, mangoes, fresh vegetables, etc.
Quit Smoking and Alcoholism
Smoking and alcoholism are some of the vices that people practice and get red eyes. If you decide never to smoke or stop smoking you stop thinking about drops for red eyes after smoking.
To conclude indeed, you need to pay great attention to your eyes. If there are unfamiliar red eye symptoms not discussed above or for which you have imperfect knowledge go for medical tests. Observe after-treat care to promote faster healing.
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Reference and Cited works