Dry and Red Eye


Red Eye

What is red eye?

“Red eye” is a general term used to describe red, irritated and bloodshot eyes. Red eyes are usually caused by allergy, eye fatigue, over-wearing contact lenses or common eye infections such as pink eye (conjunctivitis). However, redness of the eye can also signal more serious eye conditions or disease, such as uveitis or glaucoma. If your red eye persists or worsens, always contact the vision specialists at our Auckland optometrists for proper diagnosis and treatment.

The key to managing red eye is getting the correct diagnosis from one of our skilled optometrists in a timely fashion. The redness of your eye may be a cause for concern. However, most serious eye problems happen if alongside redness you have pain or changes in your vision.

Eye redness occurs when the vessels in your eye become swollen or irritated. Redness of the eye, bloodshot eyes, can indicate the presence of eye conditions that are normally benign, but also other eye conditions that are serious and require attention from our optometrists in Newmarket or Henderson.

What are the common causes of red eye?

The most common cause of eye redness is inflamed vessels on the surface of the eye caused by various irritants, including:

  • dry air
  • exposure to the sun
  • dust
  • allergic reactions
  • colds
  • bacteria or viruses
  • coughing.

More serious causes of eye redness can be infections which can produce additional symptoms such as pain, discharge, or changes in your vision.

Infections that can cause eye redness include:

  • inflammation of the follicles of the eyelashes called blepharitis
  • inflammation of the membrane that coats the eye called conjunctivitis or pinkeye
  • ulcers that cover the eye called corneal ulcers
  • inflammation of the uvea called uveitis

When should you contact your optometrist?

If you experience eye redness, you should make an appointment to see our Auckland optometrists if:

  • your symptoms last longer than two days
  • you experience changes in your vision
  • you experience pain in your eye
  • you become sensitive to light
  • you have discharge from one or both of your eyes
  • you take medications that thin your blood such as heparin or warfarin
  • your eye is red after trauma or injury
  • you have a headache and have blurry vision
  • you begin seeing white rings, or halos, around lights
  • you experience nausea and vomiting.

A Quick Guide to Dry Eye

What is dry eye?

Dry eye conditions affect a significant number of people. Dry eye is a condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or have a poor quality of tears. Tears are made up of three layers: oil, water, and mucus. A smooth oil layer helps to prevent evaporation of the water layer, while the mucin layer spreads the tears evenly over the surface of the eye. If the tears evaporate too quickly, or do not spread evenly over the cornea due to deficiencies in any of the three tear layers, dry eye symptoms can develop.

Chronic dry eye and associated ocular surface irritation can cause blurred vision, contact lens intolerance, increased risk of infection and, in severe cases, progressive ocular surface disease and corneal morbidity. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.

Dry eye cannot be cured but the optometrists at John O’Connor may be able to prescribe a treatment plan to maximise your vision and eye health. Full eye exams with our experienced Auckland optometrists start from $65.00 and if you get yourself a pair of great looking glasses from either of our Newmarket and Henderson optometry practices, your eye test will be free.

What causes dry eye?

Human tears are produced by the lacrimal glands, glands found in and around the eyelids. Tear production tends to diminish with age, with various medical conditions, or as a side effect of certain medicines. Environmental conditions such as wind and dry climates can also affect tear volume through increased tear evaporation. Evaporative dry eye is worsened with exposure to irritants including air-conditioning, dry heat, low humidity, wind and intense concentration associated with close work and computer use.

Contact lens wear can cause tear deficient dry eye, as can refractive surgery.

Diabetes is also a significant cause of tear deficient dry eye. Diabetes causes major loss of corneal sensitivity reducing both reflex tearing and the blink rate associated with good quality and adequate tears.

Secondary dry eye symptoms are caused by environmental and dietary factors, including cigarette smoke, smog, air-conditioning, central heating, dehydrating temperature controlled environments, weather conditions as well as alcohol and caffeine.

Dry Eyes

Dry eye symptoms

When the normal amount of tear production decreases, or tears evaporate too quickly from the eyes, symptoms of dry eye can develop.

If you have dry eye, your symptoms may include soreness, scratchiness, dryness, grittiness, burning, stinging and blurry vision. There may be a sandy, gritty irritation that becomes worse as the day progresses, which is due to tear evaporation. Symptoms may persist for many months. History based on known risk factors and associations is the most useful tool for dry eye diagnosis.

Our Auckland optometrists specialise in the diagnosis and management of dry eye. Between our Henderson Optometry practice and our optometrists in Newmarket our staff has dedicated over 35 years’ helping dry eye patients enjoy more comfortable lives. If you are suffering from dry eye symptoms, please schedule a consultation today with any of our qualified optometrists for a comprehensive eye examination. We take your eye care seriously.

We deliver peace of mind about the way you see the world, your sight.

We offer high quality eyecare and friendly service at our optometry practices in Newmarket and Henderson. For your convenience both stores are open 6 days a week.