AS the old proverb goes, the eye’s are a window to the soul.
However, your eyes also provide a window for detecting some of the earliest signs of some health conditions.
Having red bloodshot eyes is fairly normal and usually just suggests you’re tired or have had too many heavy nights out on the town.
But if you’re also experiencing grittiness, burning or some watery yellow discharge coming from your eye, there might be something more serious going on.
“Red eye or conjunctivitis (eye infection) is very common and the reason for one in 10 consultations in GP surgeries,” Dr Nisa explained.
According to the GP, red eye can be caused by a variety of different health issues:
1. Inflammatory and infectious conditions:
“Red eye is often caused by inflammation and infectious conditions – sometimes bacterial.
“Viral red eye tends to cause a watery discharge, bacterial infection a yellow discharge,” she said.
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The GP also said that Covid, which is usually associated with infection of the lungs and heart, can also be the cause of an eye infection or red eye.
“Red eye can be a symptom and side effect of Covid-19.
“Covid-19 can enter the body via the eyes and travel to the brain from the back of the eye,” she added.
Blepharitis is a common eye condition affecting the eye lid.
“It is caused by bacterial infection which causes the base of the eyelids to become inflamed.
“Blepharitis can also lead to red eye,” Dr Nisa said.
The condition is often caused by dirty or expired beauty products getting too close to the eye.
“Allergies like pollen, which causes hay fever, can cause red eye,” she said.
“And also dust mites and sometimes animal hair cause allergic reactions can also cause red eye,” she added.
5. Contact lenses
“Complications with contact lenses including not cleaning them before placing them in the eye which can cause abrasion to the surface of the eye allowing infection to enter,” the GP said.
AK is an infection of the cornea – the clear outer layer of the eye.
The condition happens when the parasite acanthamoeba gets trapped between the cornea and the contact lens.
It eats into the cornea, causing severe pain and in a quarter of cases, blindness.
How to treat your red eye
When it comes to treating your red eye you must be fast and very clean, the expert said.
“Practice good eye hygiene, cleaning eye lids thoroughly and making sure to wash hands before cleaning your eyes or applying eye drops or eye ointment.”
She suggested using eye drops or ointment that contain dimidines which reduce the risk of bacteria increasing and multiplying.
When to call 999
The GP said it’s always worth calling 999 your local emergency if you’re experiencing one of the following:
- vision changes
- severe headache
- eye pain
- unusual sensitivity to light
- if foreign object or chemical splashed in your eye
- you feel you have something in your eye
- you have swelling in or around your eyes
- you cannot open and keep open one or both eyes
- you suddenly begin to experience halos around lights
- you also experience nausea or vomiting