Dr. Bijuli Goswami
Very often we get scared when there is redness in our eyes. Our scare is not unjustified as it may lead to severe problems of the eyes. There are many causes of Eye Redness.
The most common cause of Red Eye is Acute Infective Conjunctivitis. For the layman, Conjunctiveness is the inflammation or infection of the translucent membrane that lines the eyelids and coats the surface of the eye (the conjunctiva). Sudden and severe (acute) infection may be caused by virus or bacterial germs.
Acute Viral Conjunctivitis: It is commonly known as Eye Flue. Influenza or viral fever may appear in epidemic form. For instance, it may appear amongst a group of people in the same locality or in the same family. Because it is contagious, the disease can spread from direct contact. The infection is caused by virulent viral organisms. Immediately after getting infected, there is a sensation of presence of foreign bodies, watering and redness of eyes and swelling of the eyelids. The problem continues to increase within two-three days and generally subsides after three to four days of proper treatment.
Acute Bacterial Conjunctivitis: In this kind of infection, the patient usually comes with a red, swollen eye, pain and profuse discharge from the eyelid matting. In case of virulent bacterial infection, there is membranous conjunctive with bloody discharge. It needs immediate medical intervention with cleaning of the infected conjunctivital membrane.
Complications of Infective Conjunctivitis
Corneal Ulcer: Untreated conjunctivitis may lead to severe problems. The most common complication is corneal ulcer, where there is a whitish ulceration of clear cornea with more pain and swelling.
Pan Opthalmitis: Untreated corneal ulcer melts the cornea with perforation. The infection spreads inside the eye with severe pain and swelling which demands immediate surgery.
What is your duty?
- Red-eyed patients should immediately consult an eye specialist.
- The patient needs adequate eye rest for early recovery.
- Isolation of the patient with towels, handkerchiefs, bedsheet, pillow cover is advised.
- After instillation of eye drops, one should wash hands with dettol soap and water.
- Eye infection never spreads by looking into a patient’s eyes. It spreads only if touched by infected hands.
- Never use raw herbal medicine or ‘gulap jal’ because improperly sterilised or prepared drops may cause more complications with fungal infections.
- Use black goggles to protect from sunlight, wind, dust and pollution.
- Avoid contact with public.
- There is no restriction on diet.
Acute Allergic Conjunctivitis: There is sudden swelling of the eye, redness with very minimal or no pain, often history of exposure to allergen.
Sub-Conjunctivital Haemorrhage: There is bleeding in the conjunctivita due to injury. Sometimes vigorous physical exercise may cause bleeding.
Acute Congestive Glaucoma: Sudden rise of eye pressure causes severe pain and redness of eye. It causes blurring of vision and also vomiting. It needs immediate medical intervention.
(Dr. Bijuli Goswami is a Consultant Ophthalmologist in Guwahati)