Q: Dr my daughter is 4 years old and her eyes always have this red colour that comes and goes – sometimes on its own, sometimes after washing it with warm water and she feels no pain in her eyes. What could be the cause?
A: Thanks for writing in. Although your question is about a 4-year old, I will be addressing red/pink eyes in any age group, generally.
A red eye can give you cause for serious concern especially if it happens when you can’t really attribute any event/trauma to it…and then it’s also not painful. What on earth could it be?! 😀
Usually, the white of the eye (sclera) is covered by a transparent membrane with a rich blood supply, called the conjunctiva. This membrane can be infected/ irritated or blood vessels under it can burst leading to painless red eyes.
Irritation of the conjunctiva (conjunctivitis) could be due to an infection, allergy, chlorine (remember those blood shot eyes after swimming? :D), dust etc
Conjunctivitis due to viruses tends to affect one eye first and then spread to the other eye…helped along by people rubbing their red eyes and then touching the other eye.
Conjunctivitis caused by bacteria can usually be recognized by the presence of sticky eye discharge which crusts around the edges of the eye.
Conjunctivitis caused by allergies usually affect both eyes and causes significant itching.
A burst blood vessel causes a condition known as sub-conjunctivial haemorrhage (this simply means bleeding under the conjunctiva). This can be caused by coughing or straining.
Treatment of conjunctivitis may involve the use of eye drops. Remember not to prescribe them for yourself…that’s what your doctor is there for 😀
Other measures include placing cool face towels or flannels to the eye to soothe it, not sharing towels, pillows/pillowcases, staying away from make-up at this time (I feel you, girl friend! Imagine going out without putting your face on! Whaaat!!!!), staying of contacts, if you use them and don’t forget to keep your hands off your face.
Burst blood vessels would usually resolve on their own.
Burst vessels usually require no treatment and resolve within 7 to 14 days.
Now, if you develop pain or find that your vision is affected, please see your doctor. It could be any number of issues including glaucoma, sty ( a small lump/boil at the edge of the eye lid), foreign body in the eye etc.
So, be sure to see your doctor so he can make a diagnosis of your condition and I’m sure you’ll be bright eyed in no time!
Sleep tight, y’all…and don’t let the bed bugs bite 😀