Almost everyone has seen red eyes reflected in the mirror at some point or another. While no one likes the way red eyes look, dealing with persistent or frequent red eyes could be a sign that there’s something more serious going on.
At Eldorado Vision & Optical in McKinney, Texas, experienced eye doctor Stacy Turner, OD, has helped many patients resolve their chronic red eyes. Because red eyes can develop for many different reasons, it’s important to know when it’s time to seek help.
Here, Dr. Turner discusses the possible causes of eye reddening, and explains when you should see a specialist about your condition.
Understanding red eyes
Your eyes turn red when ocular blood vessels get bigger (dilate). Many blood vessels cover the surface of your eyes. When these expand, they fill with blood. This can make the whites of your eye appear pink or red.
Everyone gets red eyes from time to time. Common reasons people develop temporary eye redness include:
- Too much screen time
- Drinking alcohol
- Tiredness; lack of sleep
- Smoking or air pollution
- Having a cold or other illness
- Wearing contact lenses
- Dry air; windy conditions
- Chemical exposure
You can also develop red eyes after having eye surgery, such as LASIK or cataract surgery.
If you have red eyes once in a while, it’s probably not a sign of an ongoing problem. You can manage occasional red eyes with lubricating eye drops or by making lifestyle changes.
When to schedule an eye exam for red eyes
Chronic or frequent red eyes are more than a temporary irritation or a minor aesthetic issue. They can be a sign of an ocular health problem. Here are some circumstances when red eyes should prompt you to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Turner:
You have symptoms of an eye infection
Eye infections, like conjunctivitis or “pink eye,” make your eyes red. Always see a doctor about an eye infection. If not treated, the infection can spread or become difficult to treat.
Signs and symptoms of eye infections include:
- Yellow, brown, or green eye mucus/discharge
- Pain or tenderness around or in your eyes
- New or unusual sensitivity to light
- Usually contained to one eye or begins in one eye
If you develop red eyes and have been in close proximity to someone who has pink eye or another eye infection, you should also see an eye care professional for an evaluation.
You have “allergy eye”
Allergies can make your eyes red, even if you don’t have other allergy symptoms. When red eyes are triggered by allergens, it’s called allergy eye. Many allergens can trigger allergy eye. Some of the most common include:
- Pollen, dust, and pet dander
- Environmental irritants
- Food and ingredient allergens
Red allergy eyes often come with an itchy, burning sensation. Dr. Turner evaluates your eyes and discusses possible solutions, such as medications and lifestyle changes.
You injured your eye
There are many ways you can injure an eye: Accidents, sports collisions, foreign objects getting in your eye, and chemical exposure can all damage your eye and trigger redness.
The redness from eye injuries can be from irritation or bleeding. Bleeding can make the white of your eye bright red. It can also create small spots in the white of your eye. These may be red or black.
Call Dr. Turner for emergency eye care right away if you have an eye injury. Early treatment improves your outlook and can prevent permanent vision loss.
Your eyes are dry and red
Your eyes make tears to keep them lubricated. Without lubrication, your eyes dry out. Lack of lubrication makes your eyes dry, itchy, red, and irritated. The most common causes of red, dry eyes are:
- Eyes don’t produce enough tears to keep the ocular surface lubricated
- “Low-quality” tears that aren’t moist enough to lubricate the eye
- Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), or tears that evaporate too fast
If you have chronic dry eye with redness, schedule an appointment at Eldorado Vision & Optical. Dr. Turner offers different solutions based on your needs, including:
The right treatment depends on the cause of your dry, red eyes, so be sure to see Dr. Turner for a thorough evaluation.
You don’t know why your eyes are red
If you have unexplained frequent or chronic red eyes, seek an expert evaluation; chronic red eyes are never normal. Dr. Turner has the expertise and skill to get to the root cause of your red eyes so you can finally get relief. Once she knows the cause of your eye redness, she can recommend a targeted treatment plan.
Ready to say goodbye to chronic red eyes? Request an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Turner at Eldorado Vision & Optical in McKinney, Texas, today.