Why Are My Eyes Red?

There are many things that can cause your eye to turn red.

The eye looks red when the blood vessels that are in the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that covers the white of your eye and the backside of your eyelids) becomes dilated.

Those blood vessels often dilate when the eye gets irritated. This irritation can originate from a problem occurring inside the eye or factors from outside the eye.

The most common external factors that can cause the eye to become red are exposure to infectious organisms (mostly viruses and bacteria), environmental irritants (smoke, chemicals, sunlight), or allergens.

Infectious organisms can cause infectious conjunctivitis, or what is more commonly referred to as “pink eye.” This condition often presents with the eye being red and a mucous discharge being produced, often to such a degree that the eyelids are crusted over upon awaking in the morning. Infectious conjunctivitis can be extremely contagious and it is often advised that you severely limit your exposure to others while the problem is active. Infectious conjunctivitis caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotic eye drops but viral conjunctivitis currently has no treatment and must run its course like the common cold.

Environmental irritants can make the eye look red for a short period of time during and immediately after exposure. The irritation is usually self-limited but may resolve more quickly with the use of over-the-counter lubricating drops or artificial tears. It is very important to understand exactly which irritant you were exposed to because there are some chemicals (acids and bases) that can cause extreme damage to the eye. So if you’re exposed to a caustic chemical you need to immediately rinse your eye out with water and seek emergency medical attention.

Allergens can cause allergic conjunctivitis, which can look very similar to pink eye but usually has significantly less mucous discharge and is usually accompanied by fairly severe itching. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious and can usually be treated with anti-allergy eye drops.

Infectious and allergic conjunctivitis can cause mild discomfort and itching but they rarely cause significant pain or loss of vision. A red eye with significant pain, especially when accompanied by severe light sensitivity and vision loss, often indicates more significant problems such as iritis, angle closure glaucoma or a corneal ulcer, all of which require immediate medical attention. If your eye is red and there is significant pain do not assume you have pink eye--see your eye doctor immediately!


Solar Eclipse Safety:  Safe and Fun Viewing of the April 8 Solar Eclipse

  Dr. Michael Baker Wants to Help You Take in the Stellar Moment

On April 8th, a total solar eclipse, (the sun will be completely blocked by the moon)  will occur in northeast Ohio.   Some remarkable facts about how unique and fascinating this event will be:

  • The last total eclipse in Ohio was in 1806

  • The next total eclipse in Ohio will be in 2099

  • There will not be another total solar eclipse in the continental United States until 2044

This is a once-in-a-lifetime event we are fortunate to experience.  There are dangers, however, and it is critical to be prepared to view the eclipse with proper eye protection to avoid any temporary or permanent eye damage from the sun.  To ensure spectators won’t miss the remarkable sight, local optometrist and 2001 Madison graduate Dr. Michael Baker is sharing a few tips for safe viewing

  • Enjoy the view.   Your eyes should always be protected by approved viewing tools such as solar filters or eclipse glasses.  Standard sunglasses or tinted lenses are not adequate. Never look directly at the sun without ISO-approved eye protection, even briefly.

  • Know your timing and duration.  The eclipse, as the moon travels past the sun, will last over two hours, beginning around 2:00 pm and ending around 4:30 pm, with totality around 3:15 pm.   

  • Be aware of harmful solar exposure.  If you stare at the sun without protection, you may experience damage to your retina (the tissue at the back of your eye) called “solar retinopathy.” This damage can occur without any sensation of pain, since the retina does not have pain receptors. The injury can be temporary or permanent. 

  • Visit your doctor of optometry. If you experience any problems with your eyes or vision after the eclipse, your optometrist will be able to provide you with the medical care you need. 

Dr. Baker has donated over three thousand ISO-certified filter eclipse viewers to every Madison Local Schools student in his pledge to help keep our community’s eyes safe.  Individual schools will send home eclipse viewers in the days or weeks prior to the event.  

For others in our community, Dr. Baker has eclipse viewers available by donation at his office in Madison Village with 100% of proceeds donated to benefit his favorite charity in Madison - End 68 Hours of Hunger Lake County.  This organization is a public non-profit effort to confront the approximately 68 hours of hunger that some school children experience between the free lunch they receive in school Friday afternoon and the free breakfast they receive in school Monday.  Food scarcity and insecurity is more common than one may think, including in our own community.


Additional questions regarding eye safety and use of eclipse glasses can be found below.  Dr. Michael Baker’s office is located at 103 N Lake St in Madison Village and has eclipse viewers available for pickup during his office hours.  He can be reached by phone at 440-428-2526 or at www.eyedoctorsofmadison.com.


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Mission Statement

Our doctors and staff are committed to providing thorough care with personal attention. At Eye Doctors of Madison, you will find the compassionate care of a small-town doctors' office with the knowledge of a big-city institution. It is our mission to not only treat each patient uniquely but also like family.

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