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Red Eye : Definition, Causes, Sign and Treatment

Thursday, September 27th 2012. | General

Red Eye Definition

The red eye is part of the ocular manifestations varied most benign to the most serious. The red eye is the leading cause of emergency consultation for a problem with the eye, that is to say its frequency.

The conjunctiva is a clear membrane, thin, transparent mucous membrane that covers the original inner surface of the eyelids and the anterior surface of the eye sclera.

Redness of the eye comes from the conjunctiva, usually transparent or slightly vascularized, which takes a blood red color, for various reasons: either as a result of an expansion of its vessels, or a hemorrhage with effusion beneath the conjunctiva, subconjunctival called giving more often localized redness.


The diagnosis is complex because of the multiplicity of causes that can cause a red eye. It is sometimes necessary to have further tests to diagnose such an examination at the slit lamp by an ophthalmologist.

Before any red eye it is necessary to know quickly if there is pain and decreased visual acuity, if muscle tone is high and what is the state of the pupil.

Red Eye Sign

It is important to diagnose early signs of severity.

The red eye is accompanied by classic symptoms like watery eyes, itching (pruritus) in the context of an allergy or print grain of sand in the eye.

Longer pink color that is red for conjunctivitis.

Unstable purplish red circle around the cornea resulting vascular compromise deeper and is a sign of seriousness.

The main signs of severity are:

  • pain that affects the eye first in its surface and because of the particular sensitivity of this organ, it quickly becomes intense and seems to affect the inside of the eye and the skull is one of the reasons consultation and the presence of a sharp pain guide the diagnosis.
  • The decrease in visual acuity : the vision may be reduced for the whole eye or part only with amputation of the field of vision;
  • When the IOP is high indicates the presence of glaucoma;
  • The state of the pupil with a motor reflex picture abolished under conditions such as optic neuropathy.

Red Eye Causes

The red eye is usually not serious.

Conjunctivitis and subconjunctival hemorrhage causes red eye without gravity.

Conjunctivitis can be of different origins:

  • Viral these are the most common and most contagious. They occur in the context of achieving more comprehensive infectious;
  • Irritating : it is less aggressive. They usually disappear spontaneously when the irritation disappears (grain of sand, dust ..) wearing contact lenses are handling conditions that are optimal as can be responsible;
  • Allergic : they are characterized by impairment of both eyes and itching very important. Edema of the conjunctiva is important. The occurrence is in a context that is allergic season, spring and an allergen that causes a recurrence each contact;
  • Bacterial they manifest themselves differently depending on the type of bacteria. Muco purulent secretions stick in the eye are classic revival especially among children. They regress quickly drops under broad spectrum antibiotic prescribed without bacteriological examination;

Conjunctivitis also remains undiagnosed in many cases quite significant.


Red Eye Sign

Red eye can also be a sign of a more serious condition.

Acute glaucoma and corneal lesions secondary to trauma or inflammation are the main causes of a red eye serious.

The trauma that can cause various injuries, painful and often occur in the context of occupational exposure. An examination with the slit lamp measurement of intraocular pressure must be systematic.


The eye is the seat of a diffuse redness, purple with a red circle around the cornea. It is the pain, intense headache accompanied by nausea and even vomiting, loss of vision, context and brutal character who must give the alarm.

The iridocyclitis.

It is a violation of both the iris and ciliary body, which can occur either spontaneously or as a result of damage to the cornea.

Subconjunctival hemorrhage

The subconjunctival hemorrhage is a relatively common, benign but often impressive.

It is the result of a hemorrhage in the virtual space beneath the conjunctiva.

Usually it is not found causes.

Its recurrence must find a disease that could promote the as high blood pressure, a disease associated with impaired blood clotting, and even diabetes.

It can also justify conducting additional tests: it needs to see a specialist as soon as possible.


Keratitis is a serious condition of the eye requiring a rapid response.

- Reflecting inflammatory damage to the cornea, it is characterized by intense pain and discomfort to strong light (called photophobia) with a protective reflex (the eyelid tends to close). Disorders that accompany it, such as pain or tearing importance are variables.

- Originally variable:

- Viral:

  • Herpes cornea, which can be aggravated by the use of corticosteroid eye drops and eye ointment eligible for antiviral
  • Ophthalmic zoster, can benefit from an anti viral
  • Kerato conjunctivitis adenovirus

- Bacterial (corneal abscesses), fungal or amoebic.

- Linked to chemical burns, requiring multiple rinses, UV exposure, foreign body removal when considering the slit lamp.

- Secondary sicca syndrome particularly common among the elderly.

Red Eye Treatment

Treatment of red eye is directly linked to its cause.

When the irritative and allergic conjunctivitis are the first objective is to evade the officer.

Hygiene measures are essential, especially hand hygiene, especially for those wearing contact lenses.

Of topical antiseptics or antibiotics may be prescribed by the doctor.

What specialty concerned?


Ophthalmology is a specialty devoted to the study of the structure and functioning of the eye and adnexa, but also to medical or surgical treatment of diseases affecting them.Ophthalmology is a surgical specialty, but in France, some ophthalmologists do not operate, their specialty is then called medical ophthalmology.

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