Eye Redness - Coping up with Eye Redness

Eye Redness - Treatment Options Available for Curing Eye Redness Fast

What do a long day at the office, a night on the town, and an afternoon of gardening have in common? They can all have you seeing red-when you look in the mirror, that is.

“Eye redness can be caused by a lot of things,” says Carol Ziel, M.D., an ophthalmologist with the Eye Clinic of Wausau in Wisconsin. “A red eye may simply be dry or slightly irritated, or it may be a sign of chronic or acute glaucoma, inflammation of the eye, or a conjunctivitis,” she continues.

“In the case of acute glaucoma, which most often occurs in children but can also occur in adults, there tends to be red eyes in conjunction with dilated pupils, blurring of vision, and pain,” says Charles Boylan, M.D., a pediatric ophthalmologist at A Children’s Eye Clinic of Seattle.

“You can get red eyes from certain diseases such as chronic glaucoma, blood diseases, gout, thyroid diseases, and even a tumor,” warns Jon H. Bosland, M.D., a general ophthalmologist in private practice in Bellevue, Washington. “You can also get red eyes from iritis, an inflammatory disease which is usually inside the eye. It is often associated with discomfort and increased pressure within the eye as well. And it can be very serious if not treated with cortisone,” says Boylan.

For these reasons, the experts recommend that you have your eyes checked if the redness persists for more than a couple of days, if there is any pain or change of vision associated with the redness, if your eyes suddenly become sensitive to light, if you notice redness or blood over the pupil (the dark center of the eye), or if you have any discharge from one or both eyes.

For red eyes that are caused by everyday irritants-such as long hours in contact lenses, allergies, fatigue, air pollution, or dry air-there are some things you can do to help get the red out and relieve irritation.

Give your eyes a “lube” job. “Lubricating eye drops such as Visine can help to relieve some of the dryness and make the eye feel better,” says Bosland. “But don’t use them any longer than a few days at most,” he adds (see “Eye-Drop Alert”). Eye drops and artificial tears can be especially helpful to older individuals. “Older people don’t produce as many tears as they should, which can make the eyes red,” says Boylan.

Apply cool or warm compresses. “It doesn’t really matter which kind you use. Whatever feels best to you is fine,” says Ziel. “A washcloth soaked in cool water feels good, as does simply cupping cool water in your hand and holding it under the eye,” adds Bosland.

Use an over-the-counter antihistamine. If your red, itchy eyes are the result of an allergy, such as hay fever, then treating the allergy itself will tend to help your eyes as well, according to Bosland.

Get a good night’s rest. “This is often enough to clear up red eyes that are the result of too little sleep,” says Bosland. If 40 winks don’t perk up your peepers, however, then the redness is probably the result of some other cause and should be checked out by a doctor.

Wear goggles in the pool. If you plan to take a splash in the pool, protect your eyes from the irritating effects of chlorine with a pair of well ­fitting swimming goggles.

Use eye drops in the air. “The air in the cabin of an airplane is extremely dry and contains less oxygen, both of which can irritate and redden the eyes,” says Bosland. Over-the-counter lubricating drops add moisture to the eye, which helps to keep them from getting dried out.

Sport shades. Wear a pair of good-quality sunglasses whenever you go out during the day. This is especially important if you’ll be skiing, boating, or sun-bathing on a bright day.”Snow blind-ness and ultraviolet bums can result when the eyes are unprotected in the sunlight,” warns Bosland. “And both conditions can be extremely painful,” he adds. “I’ve also seen skiers get red eyes from going down the hill without protective eye wear and ending up with extremely dry eyes from the wind,” says Boylan. “Usually, it’s the not-so­good skiers like myself who keep their eyes wide open on the way down so as not to hit anything,” he says.

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