Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What if Your Eyes Are Red and Irritated?

Eyes can turn red for many reasons, including infection, inflammation, allergy, broken blood vessels and trauma. If the white of your eye (sclera) looks red or pink, you might have one of the following conditions:

• Pink Eye. If you have kids, you almost certainly know about an eye infection known as pink eye. Adults can get it, too. If the redness is from a form of pink eye known as conjunctivitis, you also will have symptoms such as itching, burning or stinging, discharge, swelling, watering — or a combination of the above. Some forms of pink eye are contagious, and some are not. Allergic conjunctivitis, for example, is not contagious. But viral and bacterial forms of pink eye are contagious. So it's best to see your eye doctor or family doctor for diagnosis and possible treatment.
Quick Tip: You should avoid rubbing your eyes. Make sure you wash your hands often. For relief, use cool, wet compresses on the outside of your closed eyelids.

• Eye Allergies. Allergies can be seasonal (spring and fall), or they can happen when something irritating (allergen) invades your eyes, like cat dander or fumes. Symptoms of eye allergies include itchy eyes and red, watery and puffy eyes. How your eyes are affected may depend on the time of year and type of plants you have in the area where you live.
Quick Tip: Try cold, wet compresses on the outside of your closed eyelids. You also may find relief if you take an over-the-counter antihistamine orally. If the allergy continues you may need to see your eye doctor for a prescription to help you deal with symptoms.

• Broken Blood Vessel. Tiny blood vessels in the white of the eye can break from straining, lifting, rubbing or for no reason at all. When this happens, the sclera becomes bright red from the blood leaking under the clear conjunctiva and the condition is called a subconjunctival hemorrhage.
A red eye from a subconjunctival hemorrhage looks scary, but usually it is harmless and ordinarily isn't considered an emergency.
Quick Tip: To be on the safe side, you should see your eye doctor within a day or two after noticing symptoms to make sure there's no underlying cause for the broken vessel. Otherwise, there really is no treatment other than time for most of these blood leaks

• Eye Trauma. Getting hit in the eye can certainly cause redness, along with pain and blurred vision. The eye may be scratched or gouged, but there also could be hidden damage inside the eye, such as a detached retina, that can be very serious and must be treated. Unless the hit is very light, an eye doctor should treat eye traumas right away.
Quick Tip: For some immediate relief, put a very cold compress or ice pack on the injured eye. Avoid rubbing it. If you can't reach your eye doctor, go to an emergency room or urgent care center for help.

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