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What Red Eyes Tell You About Your Health

What Red Eyes Tell You About Your Health

When you look in the mirror, the whites of your eyes look red. What’s going on? Red eyes can be a symptom of a minor problem or a major health issue. That’s why it’s important to have your eyes checked by an eye specialist if you’re having problems. 

Our board-certified ophthalmologists at Wolchok Eye Associates in Jacksonville, Florida are the experts to see if your eyes are red and aren’t clearing up after a day or so. You’re in safe hands. We provide prompt diagnosis and treatment after reviewing your medical history and examining your eyes

Four of the more common causes of red eyes are listed below, followed by a note on more serious health issues that red eyes can signal. 

1. Allergies

Your eyes are red and irritated. If they also feel itchy or you’re crying clear tears for no reason and sneezing a lot, you likely have allergies, if our examination rules out other causes of your red eyes. 

You can develop allergies at any time in your life. If you never had them in childhood, it doesn’t mean you can’t get them as an adult. They can cause chronic redness in your eyes. 

You can develop allergies to pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds or indoor culprits like dust mites or mold. We can provide prescription eye drops that help control your symptoms. Antihistamines can dry out your eyes and create more problems. If you have other symptoms, allergy shots or oral medications are helpful in controlling your symptoms. 

2. Dry eyes

Your eyes are naturally lubricated from the glands near your eye. If your eyes are red or feel gritty, you likely have a condition called dry eye. Your tear glands aren’t working properly and your eyes aren’t getting enough moisture. It can become a chronic condition. 

Many conditions can cause dry eyes. One habit that can contribute to dry eye is spending too much time looking at your computer and not giving your eyes a rest. We provide artificial tear solutions and other treatments to help your eyes feel comfortable if you have this condition. 

3. Subconjunctival hemorrhage 

You notice that the whites of your eyes, called the sclera, has a red spot in it. Did you notice it soon after you had a fit of sneezing or a prolonged series of deep coughs? You could have a subconjunctival hemorrhage, which is a bruise under the sclera. The sneezing, coughing, and even vomiting can cause a sudden rise in blood pressure that results in a broken blood vessel in your eye. 

The red turns to yellow in a couple of days as the blood vessel heals. If it doesn’t go away in a week or two, make an appointment with our office. But if the red is in your iris or if you have pain or problems with your vision, call us right away for an appointment. 

4. Viral infection

Pinkeye, or viral conjunctivitis, is a common viral infection that makes your eyes red and causes symptoms of the common cold and more. Your conjunctiva is the protective, thin, clear lining over your sclera and the inside of your eyelids. 

Other symptoms besides red eyes include swollen eyelids, itching, and/or a burning feeling in your eyes. You’ll also have a sticky discharge that makes it hard to open your eyes when you wake up in the morning. 

Pinkeye is common in children, and it’s quite contagious. Be sure to make an appointment at the first sign of pinkeye. If it’s viral, the infection must run its course. Because it’s spread so easily, you shouldn’t share any utensils, towels, or other personal items. 

There are different types of conjunctivitis, requiring different treatments. We test you to determine the type of conjunctivitis you have. Conjunctivitis caused by allergies should clear up once you have help for your allergy symptoms. If you have bacterial conjunctivitis, we prescribe antibiotics. 

In addition to the more common reasons noted above, there are quite a few other reasons for red eyes. You may have damaged your cornea. Red eyes can also be a sign of serious eye disease like glaucoma or retinoblastoma, an eye cancer. 

Your eyesight is precious. If you have unexplained redness in your eyes or other eye symptoms, call Wolchok Eye Associates or make an appointment online today. 

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