What are the sign, symptoms and causes of red eye?

Introduction about red eye and causes of red eye:-

We all are familiar with the term of “red eye”. Many of us are experienced with red eyes time to time. It affects one or both eyes. Red eyes mean the redness on the white part of your eye which called as Sclera due to swollen or broken or dilated blood vessels. Actual several blood vessels of the eye become prominent which give a reddish appearance. There are many causes of red eye. Redness of eyes may be associated with pain or without pain. It’s also associated with itching, irritation, discharge, injury, etc.  Red eye is caused by a variety of conditions.

Possible causes of red eye:-

Environmental factors: – Environmental pollution is one of the causes of red eye. Many people suffer from eye allergy due to dust, pollution, pollen from trees and flower, wing, dry eye, animal dander, more chlorine in water, etc. If you are allergic to these substances,  then you may suffer from red eye or allergic conjunctivitis while your eyes are exposed to them.

Contact lens related: – Overtime wearing contact lenses can be the cause of red eye.  Contact lenses cause dry eye. For that reason, Silicon hydrogel contact lenses or low water content contact lenses are better than normal hydrogel material lenses or high water content contact lenses. Sometimes contact solution also causes of allergy in our eyes. If the lens material or lens solution, not suitable for your eyes, then you will feel the irritation of the eyes which can be the cause of the redness. We should use good silicon hydrogel contact lenses that good for eyes and that are the cause of less dryness of our eyes. Every contact lens wearer should follow two most important things.

  1. Should not overuse lenses
  2. Clean the lenses properly and follow the proper guideline of lenses

Work related: – Many people feel the dryness of the eye associated with mild redness, those who are working prolong with computers. If you work in hazardous environments and don’t wear the safety glasses then you may suffer from red eyes. So you need to wear protective glasses while you work with any kinds of hazardous environments.

by Alejandro Escamilla via free-images.cc
Eye allergy

Disease related:It can be associated with many kinds of eye diseases or eye infections like Angel-closure glaucoma, severe Dry Eye,  Scleritis, Episcleritis, Adenoviral conjunctivitis or keratoconjunctivitis, conjunctivitis, Stye, Chalazion, Blepharitis etc.Uveitis causes of red eye

Smoking occasional causes of red eye

 Bad habit: – Smoking and alcohol consumption. Sleep deprivation also one of the causes of dry eye.

 Injury related: – Mild to moderate eye injury or trauma can of red eye. Even small corneal abrasion also can be the cause of red eye. SCH (Subconjunctival hemorrhage), Hyphema etc.Subconjunctival haemorrhage

Corneal abrasion

Cosmetic products: – Though this is rare but changing cosmetic products (like eyeliner, kajal) are one of the causes of eye redness. Sometimes you may try a new product but the material of that product may not suitable for your eyes and you can suffer from eye irritation, redness, and eye allergy. So be careful when you change your cosmetic products.  

Uncommon conditions: – Carotid artery–cavernous sinus fistula, polycythemia vera.

The red eye should not be taken lightly because it can be developed by vision-threatening conditions and diseases.

What are the vision-threatening causes of red eye?

  • Hyphema- Collection of blood in the anterior chamber of the eye due to some injury. The condition requires immediate medical attention.
  • Iritis- Inflammation of iris (Color part of the eye).
  • Scleritis- Painful inflammation of the sclera (The white part of the eye under conjunctiva )
  • Adenoviral Keratoconjunctivitis
  • IOFB (Intraocular foreign body) – Injury by foreign body
  • Severe dry eye
  • ACG (Angle-closure glaucoma)- Increase the pressure inside of the eye
  • Orbital disease

Non-vision threatening causes of red eye:-

  • Eye strain- Due to excessive work with mobile, computer (Computer vision syndrome) or other types of visual display unit
  • Eye rubbing- Excessive rubbing can cause red eye
  • Stye- Also called hordeolum (Small painful lump in eyelid)
  • Chalazion- Painless bump or nodule inside the upper or lower eyelid
  • Blepharitis- Inflammation of the eyelid margin
  • Entropion- Eyelid fold inwards
  • Dry eye
  • Conjunctivitis- Known as pink eye due to bacterial or viral infection of eyes
  • SCH (Subconjunctival hemorrhage)- Bleeding under conjunctiva
  • NLD Block (Nasolacrimal duct block)
  • Preseptal cellulitis

Why Adenoviral Keratoconjunctivitis is sight-threatening causes of red eye?

Adenovirus is most common viral conjunctivitis of the eye. Once adenoviral conjunctivitis involved in the cornea, then we can see focal infiltrates on the cornea, which leaves superficial focal scars on the surface of the cornea. Approximately 15-35% adenoviral conjunctivitis develops subepithelial corneal infiltrates that become focal corneal scar at the late stage. If the scar present at the center point of the cornea, then it can reduce our vision.

As we know red eye may be associated with pain or without pain.

Possible painful and painless causes of red eye are:-  

Causes of Painful red eyes Causes of painless red eyes
Iritis Conjunctivitis (Pink eye)
Acute glaucoma (Angle-closure Glaucoma ) SCH (Subconjunctival hemorrhage)
Scratches over cornea or corneal epithelial injury due to foreign body injury Uveitis- It may be painful or painless
Corneal ulcer Pterygium
Ocular herpes  
Hyphema – Usually caused by trauma
Pterygium with Conjunctivitis: Both are causes of red eye
Pterygium with Conjunctivitis: Both are causes of red eye

Red eye and pink eye both are same?

Pink eye- also known as conjunctivitis which is redness and inflammation of the eyes due to some viral or bacterial infections. So all red eyes are not pink eye like dry eye, eye rubbing, red eye due to alcohol consumption and smoking, and above other mentioned problem.

Treatment of red eyes:-

You need to consult with your local eye doctor for the treatment of the red eye. You can take an opinion from Optometrist or Ophthalmologist. An Optometrist or Ophthalmologist can detect the causes of red eye. An Ophthalmologist can give you medicine for red eyes. Treatment of red eyes depending on the causes. Also, your eye doctor may ask you few questions like:-

  1.  How long you suffering from red eyes?
  2. Is it the first time or before also you get the same issue?
  3. As I mentioned before that recently you changed your cosmetics like eyeliner or kajal?
  4. Did you change your contact lens brands or contact lens solutions brands recently?
  5. Any of your friend or family member got red eye recently or not?
  6. How many hours you work with computer and mobile daily?
Depending upon the sign and symptoms they ask you questions.

What are the points that you should ask your eye doctor?

  1. How long it will take to cure?
  2. What are the causes of red eye?
  3. How often you need to use eye drops?
  4. You need to rest from your job or not?

Few tips about avoiding red eye:-

  1. http://www.healthline.com/symptom/eye-redness
  2. Primary care Ophthalmology Text Book 2nd Edition
  3. http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/red-eyes.htm

Krishnendu Mandal
Optometrist, Blogger, Blogging since Jan 2016



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