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Home » What's New » Dry Eyes or Red Eyes: Which Do You Have?

Dry Eyes or Red Eyes: Which Do You Have?

Red eyes? Just an annoying symptom of allergies or fatigue, right? In the many cases, it would be a very sound and safe assumption to make. Even so, red eye causes are not all exactly the same, and it is important to know that in some cases it is more serious than usual. Dr. Ross Cusic of Optical Images in Kirkland, Washington explains, “It is almost always safe to say that red eyes are not a serious condition, and in many cases nothing of a medical nature needs to be done. Sometimes the rare serious cause for red eyes does come up, but most red eyes, in general, are little more than a nuisance. In some cases, however, your red, itchy eyes might indicate something more complicated and much harder to treat. Dry eye syndrome is an extremely common, quite uncomfortable eye condition that can cause much pain and inconvenience if not diagnosed and treated correctly.”

When your eyes dry out, they often begin to feel itchy and take on a reddish appearance. This often takes place as a result of an allergen or some other irritant in your immediate surroundings, that has caused the blood vessels in your eyes to become inflamed and expanded, and therefore more visible. This inflammation is the reason that your eyes take on a reddish coloration.

Dry eye syndrome is different, in that it usually requires special treatment in order to eliminate or minimize the significant pain and discomfort that characterizes this condition in the majority of cases. Dry eye syndrome is generally considered to result from one of two main causes:

The tears that the eye produces may not be able to do their job properly. This would happen as a result of the tears lacking one or more of the three essential ingredients of healthy tears that allow them to spreading over, stick to and hydrate the eye.
Another option is that the eyes don't produce enough tears in the first place. This means that even though the tears are made in such a way that they should be able to hydrate the eye properly, there's simply not enough of them. This makes it difficult, or even impossible to hydrate the eye in any meaningful way.

Special eye drops meant to treat dry eyes are usually the first line of defense. These eye drops, called artificial tears, are built to be as similar to natural tears as possible and come in a variety of formulations, depending on the cause of your dry eyes. Some are formulated to help reduce the shortage of real tears, while others assist by adding essential building blocks to your eyes which are lacking in the tears being produced. Our Kirkland optometrist will help you decide which type you need and will prescribe them accordingly.

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

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