Eye Problems: Red, Itchy or Dry Eyes?

These conditions are similar to each other and can appear together or be symptoms for a variety of eye problems.

Red eyes

Are your eyes red, blood shot, or do they have large blood vessels? Are they red all the time, or do they get redder at the end of the day?

It can be both annoying and worrisome to have red eyes when you don’t know why.

Redness results from an insult to the eye anatomy such as a reaction to an infecting organism (bacteria, virus, or fungus), trauma, systemic inflammatory conditions (e.g., arthritis or Sjögren’s Syndrome), or environmental stress (e.g., extreme temperatures, dust, or swimming). These insults dilate the eye’s blood vessels which produces an increased redness on the ocular surface.

After a thorough history review and slit lamp examination, Dr. Bender can explain why your eyes are red and create a specific treatment regimen.

Itchy eyes

Itchy eyes are commonly caused by allergies. If your itch gets worse between March and September, then it’s probably a symptom of pollen allergy. The skin around the eye might also get itchy and your eyelids could get swollen. Your eyes can also get itchy or sore from reading.

Painful Eyes

Pain in the eyes can arise from a variety of causes and deserves immediate medical attention.  Infection, inflammation or dry eyes can cause pain. If you scratch, have a foreign body or other injury of the eye you can also experience a great deal of pain.

Dry eyes

Are your eyes dry in the morning or in the evening? Will they get worse when you read or use a computer? Dry eyes are not simply ”dry,” they may also include one or several of the following symptoms: discomfort, burning, stinging, redness, irritation, vision fluctuation, and watering.

The severity of dryness issues depends on many factors. General health (e.g., diabetes, and immune system disease such as arthritis) and systemic medications (e.g., for allergies, psychiatric conditions, diabetes, hypertension, or during chemotherapy treatments), work or environmental factors (e.g., computer use, air conditioning, and extreme temperatures), age, general eye health (e.g., eyelid abnormalities, or poor tear quality/quantity), surgical history, and contact lens use are the main offenders.

Sjögren’s Syndrome is a disease that relates to dry eye disease. It is an autoimmune disease that attacks the salivary and tear glands, causing chronic dryness. Sjögren’s Syndrome compromises the health of the eye, leading to blurred vision, discomfort, redness, and possible infection.

The Sjögren’s Syndrome condition will require a treatment regimen that will take several months before it begins to work.

Exams  Slit Lamp

Testing to find the cause

It is sometimes difficult to separate the experience of having red, itchy, painful or dry eyes.  The symptoms may result from the same or completely different conditions.

Testing for any of these conditions is similar in that Dr. Bender conducts a slit lamp examination to determine the cause. A good history is also important to find out when symptoms get worse, what makes them better, and how long the symptoms have been bothering the patient.