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Red Irritated Eyes- The Surprising Reasons Your Eyes Are Red

We’ve all had to deal with red irritated eyes at one time or another. We don’t feel great, but do we really need to go to the doctor? You dread going and being told nothing is wrong or even worse that something is! 

Well when it comes to red eyes you really should always be safe than sorry and go get checked out but this post will help you decide if you should go see your eye doctor or if you need to go see your eye doctor. 

Red eyes can be caused by many things so for this I’m just going to cover the main causes of redness first.

1. Allergies

Allergies can totally cause red eyes. When you have allergies your eyes are usually red and watery (or glossy) and they often itch – especially in the corners of your eyes! It is typically in both eyes, unless you specifically only did something to one eye. Read this post to find out more ways to relieve symptoms of eye allergies.

Getting allergy tested is the most sure-fire way to figure out what you’re allergic to but you can also keep a log of your symptoms and possible triggers to try and sort out what is causing the problems. I also personally have the webmd Allergy app that lets me know the rates of mold, dust, tree, grass or ragweed in my city. I especially like this app for travelling as it can give me an idea of what I’m about to be exposed to.

2. Dryness

Dryness, especially chronic dryness can cause redness. Dryness usually causes a gritty or stinging sensation and can make your vision blurry or increase light sensitivity and 99 times out of 100 it is in both eyes. It’s sort of backwards because dryness can also result in watery eyes. Dryness is quickly become a huge issue, partially due to the amount of time we spend looking at screens. Many things can contribute to dryness though so for more info read this post.

3. Infection

If you are a contact lens wearer, especially if you sleep in them or you’ve been wearing them a little longer than you know you should, take your contacts out and go see your eye doctor. I’m not kidding, an infection caused by contacts can become super painful and can result in blindness if not treated properly or quick enough. 

Other causes of infection or “pink eye” are viruses, bacteria, fungus or STI’s. Usually these infections are in both eyes but not always. If you have had any recent colds or upper respiratory infections or have been around anyone that had pink eye go get checked. Symptoms can take up to 7 days to show up after you’ve been exposed. Certain viruses, like the one that causes cold sores or shingles, can also cause redness. 

If you think any of these are the case – go see your doctor! 

4. Inflammation

If you suffer from ulcerative colitis, crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or psoriatic arthritis and ever have an achy, red, light sensitive or blurry eye go see your doctor! These conditions, in particular, put you at a higher risk of developing bad eye inflammation that if left untreated could result in blindness.

Other, more mild types of inflammation can all cause redness too. This can be in one eye or both and could even just be a portion of the eye and it’s always best to get it looked at by your eye doctor. 

5. Other Surprising Causes Of Red Eyes

Glaucoma–  Glaucoma can cause redness in some people’s eyes and if left untreated can cause blindness. If you want to know more about glaucoma I recommend reading this post from the American optometric association.

Certain Eye Drops– There’s certain eye drops you want to stay away from- Using “get the red out” drops – yup those make redness worse overtime

Wanna know more, plus what I recommend to use instead? Read this

Straining- Heavy lifting, coughing, vomiting, constipation can all cause the delicate blood vessels in our eyes to pop. This releases lots of blood into the tissue in the front of our eye making for some pretty gruesome looking eyeballs. The good news is that this usually isn’t concerning and will clear up on it’s own (about a week or two). It is a good idea to go get checked though to make sure none of the vessels inside your eye burst open or if you got hit in the eye you should definitely get looked at. 

 One last thing, when in doubt always go visit your eye doctor (really you should be getting eye exams every year anyway). Your eye doctor will have a better idea of what specifically is going on with your eyes and can prescribe you allergy drops or other medications that are not over the counter.

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