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Home » What's New » Red Eyes and Dry Eyes: Which is Which and What To Do By Dr. Way

Red Eyes and Dry Eyes: Which is Which and What To Do By Dr. Way

When you have red, dry, itchy eyes, it can possibly be any number of minor or serious eye problems. These conditions may range from minor causes like allergies or fatigue, to more serious causes like dry eye syndrome. Most cases of red eyes will disappear over the course of time. Dry eye syndrome, however, will not. Dr. David Way of Spring Klein Vision Center in Spring, Texas cautions, “Red eyes are linked to many different causes, and can therefore be a sign of a number of different conditions. Everyday, run-of-the-mill red eyes will have different treatment than will dry eye syndrome. This is because most cases of red eye can be handled at home and require little to no medical attention whatsoever, while dry eye syndrome leaves your eyes feeling chronically dry and uncomfortable until professional help is sought. The difference between general red eye and dry eye syndrome can sometimes be hard to tell, but educating yourself may help you recognize which you have earlier and spare you a considerable amount of pain and discomfort.”

Red Eyes

Allergies are generally considered to be the leading cause of red eyes. Pet dander, pollen, or other common allergens in a person's immediate surroundings can cause an allergic reaction that causes the tiny blood vessels in the eye to become irritated and inflamed, causing them to swell and become more apparent. This is what gives your eyes their “red” or “bloodshot” appearance.

Despite their sometimes scary look, red eyes are generally quite minor and, in most cases, good hygiene and a bit of patience are all that is needed for red eyes to go away. Allergic red eyes will usually get better not long after the allergen is removed, whereas conjunctivitis or similar infections return to normal more slowly, and may take up to a few weeks to clear up.

As red eye can be caused by so many different conditions, symptoms may vary. Itchiness, dryness and a grainy, gritty feeling are quite common with allergies and other minor red eye causes. If you see yellowish or greenish discharge coming from your eyes, this is a common symptom tied to eye infections such as conjunctivitis, more commonly known as “pink eye.”

Dr. Way comments “Although most of the time it is not, red eye can, on rare occasions, be a sign of some more serious conditions, and it is important to go to your eye doctor if your red eyes are accompanied by a marked fever or any eye pain. In this case, it is incredibly important for your continued long term eye and vision health to have your condition properly diagnosed and treated.” 

Dry Eye Syndrome Treatment Is Available At Spring Klein Vision Center

Dry eye syndrome is characterized mainly by chronic dryness, redness and itchiness of the eyes. As opposed to normal red eye, it is very rare that dry eye syndrome does not requires some type of professional intervention. Furthermore, dry eye syndrome is likely to continue to cause discomfort and pain until proper help is found.

A number of things can go wrong in the eye to cause the onset of dry eye syndrome. First, the eye may not be producing a sufficient amount of tears to keep the eye hydrated and comfortable. Alternatively, it  the eye may indeed be producing tears enough to coat the eye in theory, but in actuality the tears that the eye is producing lack one or more essential parts to allow for the proper hydration and comfort of the eye.

Unfortunately, dry eye syndrome is incurable. However, artificial tears, a type of eye drop formulated specifically to help soothe dry eye symptoms, can help. These eye drops are specifically created to imitate the natural tears of the eye, and come in many varieties. Artificial tears may be formulated to help reduce the shortage of real tears being produced by your eyes, or may attempt to aid in construction of the parts of the tear that are missing. Your eye doctor should be able to help you find which ones you need.

For questions and more information, consult Dr. Way today.