Many people with red, dry, itchy eyes may reason to themselves that their red eyes will go away after they sleep a little while longer or when there's not so much dander or smoke around. It is important to know that not all reasons for red eyes are the same. Some may be from minor conditions that don't require treatment and will likely resolve themselves over the course of time, but sometimes your red, dry, itchy eyes indicate an eye condition called dry eye syndrome.
Your eyes may take on a red appearance when the blood vessels on the surface of the eye become irritated. This causes them to be inflamed and dilated. A person may refer to a number of different eye conditions that may cause your eyes to become “red” or “bloodshot.” Allergies from pet dander, pollen, or other common allergens in a person's vicinity are the leading cause of red eyes. Infections such as conjunctivitis may also cause red eyes, as well as fatigue.
Generally, red eyes are not a sign of any serious condition, and proper hygiene and patience are all that is needed for the condition to clear up. Red eyes from allergies may return to normal soon after the allergen is removed. Conjunctivitis and similar infections may take as much as a few weeks for your red eye to clear up.
Our Optometrist of Family Eye Care Center of Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia adds, “In contrast to normal red eyes, dry eye syndrome requires extensive treatment, and is likely to continue causing considerable pain and/or discomfort until steps are taken to help relieve symptoms. There are a few factors that may cause dry eye syndrome. The eye may not produce the proper amount of tears, which may lead to the eye becoming dry as a result. Alternatively, the eye may produce enough tears, but these tears could lack one or more essential elements to properly hydrate the eye. Depending on which elements are missing, tears may be unable to spread out over the eye sufficiently, or may evaporate too quickly to keep the eye hydrated. Your eyes may feel dry or itchy and may tear excessively.”
Leading causes of a person developing dry eye syndrome are hormonal changes or illnesses like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Various medications are also known to trigger dry eye symptoms.
The leading solution for dry eye symptoms is eye drops, called artificial tears, specially formulated to imitate the natural tears produced by your eyes.. Artificial tears come in various forms, depending on the cause of the dry eye syndrome. Artificial tears may help reduce the shortage of real tears being produced by your eyes, or may attempt to aid in construction of the parts of the tear that are missing.
Knowing which type of artificial tears you need may be difficult, but your eye doctor will be able to help you understand your form of dry eye syndrome and which artificial tears will work best for you.