Irritated, red eyes and rheum


Irritated, red eyes are symptoms of an inflamed conjunctiva. The most common probable causes are:

  • Infectious conjunctivitis. The most frequent types are bacterial and viral. Bacterial inflammation is usually accompanied by yellow or green coloured rheum that accumulates especially when we get up in the morning. If the infection originates from a virus, the accompanying symptoms are usually swollen eyelids, excess tears, discomfort and photophobia. Saline washes and antibiotic drops are the recommended treatment.
  • Dry eyes. Dry eyes can cause the surface of the eye to become inflamed and symptoms such as discomfort, a gritty sensation, burning and even fluctuating vision. These symptoms usually get worse as the day goes by, reaching their peak in the evening/at night. Using the computer or staring for a long time without a break exacerbates the discomfort. Treatment involves blinking frequently, using preservative-free artificial tears and wearing protective glasses if you’re in very dry or windy environments.
  • Blepharitis or inflammation of the edge of the eyelids. This condition causes irritation of the eye’s surface called blepharoconjunctivitis by tingling or stinging on the edge of the eyelids and slightly red eyes, which is worse in the morning when getting up. The main treatment involves cleaning the edge of the eyelids. An antibiotic combined with steroid eyedrops or ointment for the edge of the eyelids is occasionally required.
  • Tear conduct obstruction. The most common accompanying symptom is excess tears, even when the eyes are not red. First, the infection needs antibiotic treatment and surgery is then required to open the tear conduct. This is the definitive treatment.

If you’re suffering from these symptoms, you should see your ophthalmologist to get the right diagnosis, receive treatment and a proper follow-up.

Dr. Víctor Charoenrook