It's a common problem that may prompt many to book an eye test as soon as they can, but it is certainly better to be safe when it comes to maintaining healthy vision, it is important to remember that red eye is something that can usually be treated very easily.
When the eyes to become irritated, leading to redness around the white areas, the reasons can be many. However, while these symptoms can usually be very alarming, they are usually caused by something quite benign. Most people will suffer from red eye - or pink eye as it is often referred - at one point or another and the problem usually stems from the outermost layer of the eye becoming inflamed.
Medically known as conjunctivitis, this is usually viral, but the condition can also come from an allergic reaction or a bacterial issue which will normally clear itself up very easily. That said, it can be uncomfortable and there are products available that will reduce any soreness and redness, hopefully helping to speed up the healing process too. Should the problem be identified as blepharitis, the inflammation can be treated in just a few weeks or sooner, as long as attention is paid to good hygiene.
However, while conjunctivitis and blepharitis are conditions that are common and easy to treat, there are other reasons why people contract red eye that, while not too serious, may be more of a concern. A subconjunctival haemorrhage, for example, is quite common and is caused by a burst blood vessel in the eye. While this can be an indicator of problems like high blood pressure though, most people find it resolves itself in a matter of weeks. If it does happen on a regular basis though, you may wish to contact your optician or doctor for advice.
More serious causes of red eye can be identified by additional symptoms, which may include serious discomfort and discharge from the eye itself. If these symptoms present themselves, you should absolutely contact a specialist, as they could be a sign of anterior uveitis, glaucoma or corneal ulcers - which can be treated with eye drops but may require further treatment from a practitioner. If you experience watery eyes and blurred vision, this may be a sign of keratitis, a corneal infection that can be quite serious and often presents itself in those who wear contact lenses.
If you do have red eye at any point and have concerns, there's no harm in contacting an optician, your GP or a specialist - as it may give you the peace of mind you need or lead to more immediate treatment if required.