So you woke up this morning, looked in the mirror, and you’re eye is all red! There are several potentional reasons for red eye. Some of the more common issues that can cause red eye are: pinkeye (Conjunctivitis), allergies, a foreign object, subconjuctival hemorrhage, eye strain, Lasik recovery issues, contact lens issues, eye glasses prescription issues, or maybe you just bumped it during sleep!
As you can see, there are several possibilities for red eye, making it nearly impossible to self-diagnose. The best answer is to see your eye doctor. Optometrists are doctors who can diagnose and treat eye diseases or issues, even prescribing medications, if necessary. Some people will go see a general doctor for eye issues, but your optometrist has equipment specific for eyes and can more accurately diagnose problems.
For example, you may have a bacterial or viral infection in your eye with lots of goopy discharge and some redness. If pinkeye is the issue, you’ll need some antibiotic eyedrops and instructions on how to contain it. However, if you wear contact lenses, you’ll need different eye drops for treatment.
Also, you don’t want to leave the doctor’s office with antibiotics if your eye redness is due to allergies or eye strain. Over-prescribing antibiotics is an increasing problem and may not solve your eye’s problem. Furthermore, your optometrist can determine if your eyes have changed, possibly requiring a new prescription for glasses or contacts. Maybe you just got a new job and you sit at the computer more.
Especially if you wear contact lenses, it’s best to see your optometrist as soon as possible if you experience eye redness. Untreated eye problems can lead to serious problems for contact lens wearers since the contact is always on the eye. Make sure you’re replacing your lenses and cleaning them on schedule, not just if they become uncomfortable. Deep cleaning your lenses with an enzymatic solution will also keep your eye healthy. Wearing contact lenses will desensitize your eyes over time, so you may not even feel that a problem exists. Pain is a good indicator of an eye issue, but it’s not the only one. Check with your Optometrist to be safe. Early detection and treatment make a big difference for your eye’s health.
Finally, a note on eye drops. Some may reach for over-the-counter eye drops at the first sign of trouble. Many solutions that claim to ‘get the red out’ are actually harmful for your eyes. Temporary redness clearing paves the way for addiction. Your eyes may build up a tolerance to such drops and develop dry eye symptoms. Lasik recovery can also lead to dry, tired eyes sooner than you normally would experience. If you just throw all sorts of drops in your eyes, you may be alleviating some symptoms, but not solving the problem.
The moral of the story is when it comes to your eyes, give them the best treatment you can! Your eyes are pretty important. Check with your insurance to see what coverage you have for an eye doctor. Most optometrists accept insurance and offer annual eye exams. Optometrists don’t just fit for contacts, glasses, or Lasik, they are eye doctors who specialize in eye care and can help keep your eyes healthy.
Source: Dr. Jessica Graham