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Red Eyes vs. Dry Eyes: The Differences By Dr. Miller

When your eyes get red, dry and itchy, is this just an annoying side effect of your fatigue or allergies, or is it something more serious? Dr. Ty J. Miller, OD in Akron, Ohio says, “Most of the time red eyes are almost definitely nothing to worry about. Eyes can often become 'red' or 'bloodshot' as a result of minor things like lack of sleep, allergies such as dust, pet dander or pollen, or drugs, both prescription and recreational. However, in some cases, your red, itchy eyes may be linked to an increasingly common and very uncomfortable condition known as dry eye syndrome. Knowing the difference between common, everyday red eyes and a more complicated condition such as dry eye syndrome may help you to avoid unneccesary discomfort and pain by recognizing if you have dry eye syndrome early and knowing what kind of help you need.”

When your eyes dry out as a result of smoke in the air, allergens such as dust or dander, or anything else abnormal in your body or in your surroundings your eyes react by getting itchy and red. This reddish color results from the irritation of the tiny blood vessels in your eyes, which become inflamed and expand, becoming more visible. This is what is know as “red eye.” Although the rare case of red eye is something that requires medical attention, this condition is almost always nothing to worry about, and will genearlly clear up when the offending substance is no longer in your immediate environment or in your body.

By contrast, dry eye syndrome, and its accompanying red eye symptoms, generally does not go away under any normal circumstance. This leaves dry eye sufferers with permanently red, dry, itchy eyes.

This eye condition results from one of two shortcomings of a person's ability to create tears:
It is possible for the eyes to be unable to produce enough tears at all to sufficiently coat the eye and keep it hydrated. This makes the eye constanlty dry as a result of the lack of sufficient tears.
Alternatively, the eyes may produce enough tears, but may not be able to produce the right type of tears. Healthy tears should have 3 distincty parts: the oily layer, meant to slow evaporation of the tear, a watery layer, meant to clean and hydrate the eye, and a mucus layer, meant to allow the watery layer to stick to the eye and spread evenly. This alternative type of dry eyes result when the eye is unable to produce tears with one or more of these layers, making any amount of tears inneffective at hydrating the eye.

With dry eye syndrome, in contrast to normal red eye, you will require an eye doctor's assistance to releive symptoms. Your eye doctor will be able to prescribe you a type of eye drops, called artifical tears, that are specially formulated to imitate the tears that are naturally produced by a healthy eye. These eye drops have many different types of formulations depending on the reason for your dry eye. Some will help increase the amount of tears being produced, or will act to replace tears not being produced, while others will help replace parts of the tears that are lacking. Which type you need will be determined by your eye doctor.

For more information about red eyes and dry eye syndrome, contact Dr. Ty J. Miller, today.