RED EYE

It is a very common condition and everyone gets a red-eye at some stage of his life. Though it appears to be a temporary condition, but sometime, if not treated in time it could be harbinger of some serious ailment like Uveitis and Glaucoma, extremely important for the patient to consult an Ophthalmologist for proper treatment.

 Red eye is typically due to irritation from allergy, smoke, tired eyes due to long journey, lack of sleep and dry eyes normally in older age group, menopausal women and in younger age group specially the students from overuse of computers or contact lenses. Another, most common cause is due to atmospheric pollution, congested living in big cities and chemical fumes in industrial areas but least seen with infective causes like bacterial or viral. Normally, the condition of red eye is never taken seriously as people mostly depend on self-medication like using rose water, repeatedly washing with cold water. Since times immemorial, when present medications were not available, rose water was the only home remedy. If the condition still persists for few days the patient usually consults a pharmacist at the chemist shop or a quack in the vicinity. They straight away prescribe antibiotics eye drops or steroid eye drops, as a miracle treatment, which is absolutely unethical and be discouraged. When the patient gets relief, he saves these drops as panacea for all other eye ailments and uses them frequently for his own family members, relations and friends around. In case of constant redness, he consults his family doctor (not an ophthalmologist) for his persistent redness, who prescribes decongestant eye drops. Now these drops relieves the redness temporarily, when the effect wears off, the eyes worsen due to “rebound phenomenon of redness”. It is well documented that decongestant eye drops used for a longer period may induce narrow angle Glaucoma. Moreover, it is contra-indicated for Hypertensive cases as it raises the BP. Secondly, anti inflammatory steroid eye drops are also prescribed which has its own complications on prolonged usage, can induce Glaucoma in genetically predetermined cases and Uveitis. It should never be used unless both medications (decongestants as well as steroids) are prescribed by an Ophthalmologist, only in resistant cases that too for a shorter period and not more than 72 hours,. Both the eye drops can cause serious visual threatening. The question arises what should be used to relieve the congestion in the red eye? The answer is simple, wash the eyes with cold water repeatedly, use preservative free lubricating eye drops or artificial tear eye drops which certainly relieves the symptoms. It has been observed that the patient hardly consult a doctor as they think it is a minor ailment and does not require any medical advice. They usually consult some elderly person in the family who advises the rose water. Now, there is no scientific evidence in support of using this home remedy. If at all one uses rose water he should ensure that the drops have been sterilized properly. However, an ophthalmologist must be consulted:

• If your eyes suddenly become red or blood shot.
• Your eyes are constantly red and severely watering.
• You have blurry and painful eyes.
• You have an injury to the eye.
• You have sticky discharge from the eyes.
• If you have blurry vision for the distance or reading,

the redness will be relieved after using the distance or reading glasses.

Fatiha Asim
Prof. M. Yasin Khan Durrani. FRCOphth
Chief Editor
Ph: 2222927/Ext 1255,
ophthalmologyupdate@gmail.com
www.ophthalmologyupdate.com