Our eyes are highly sensitive organs, reacting to the slightest condition or allergen. The red color can be attributed to the expansion of the blood vessels on the surface when the eye gets irritated or infected. Children are particularly prone to red eyes because they engage in lots of play and can absent-mindedly touch their faces and eyes with filthy hands. Here are some of the common causes of red eyes in children you should know:
The eyelid contains tiny glands near the base. When these glands become clogged, they become inflamed and irritated. In a worst-case scenario, the blockage could lead to the formation of a stye. Other symptoms of blepharitis in children you should look out for include red eyes, flaky skin around the eyes, itchiness, and watery eyes. Even though blepharitis isn’t contagious, we recommend you constantly clean your child’s eyes whenever they develop any crusty and oily debris.
Viral conjunctivitis is also known as pink eye and results from diseases like the cold. Children can also develop pink eyes after a bout of upper respiratory infection. However, this type of pink eye is highly contagious. Common signs of viral conjunctivitis include excessive tearing, itchy or burning sensation in the eyes, red eyes, sensitivity to light, and swollen eyelids. The symptoms discussed above usually start in one eye before they affect the other. Your child’s optometrist could provide supportive treatments to manage the symptoms till the infections clear.
The cornea is the part of the eye that covers the pupil, anterior chamber, and iris. It is also responsible for refracting light that hits the eye. A corneal abrasion occurs when many small particles or foreign bodies scratch the cornea’s surface. Examples of such foreign bodies include sand, pieces of paper, dust, or dirt. Signs that a child has corneal abrasion include red eyes, sensitivity to light, a gritty sensation, headaches, and watery eyes. Before you take your child to a doctor, ensure you flush the eye with clean water or artificial tears to remove as much debris as possible.
Allergic eye disease
Another cause of red eyes in children is allergic conjunctivitis, or allergic eye disease, resulting from an allergen entering the eye. Within a short period, the eye becomes inflamed and turns red, and the child reports feeling a burning sensation. Other symptoms include watery eyes and itchiness. Common allergens that cause allergic eye disease include animal dander, dust, household detergents, and pollen.
As the name suggests, bacterial conjunctivitis occurs when the eye comes into contact with bacteria or dirt. The child could develop these bacterial strains of pink eye after touching their eyes with dirty hands as they play. It is also not uncommon to get red eyes after using contaminated makeup brushes to apply eye makeup. The only difference in symptoms between bacterial and viral conjunctivitis is the appearance of a yellow discharge. However, it is also highly contagious and requires immediate medical attention. Ensure you take the child to an optometrist, who will prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointments.
Fortunately, most eye problems in children tend to resolve themselves with time. However, it would help if you didn’t hesitate to seek medical attention if your child has red eyes along with concerning symptoms like worsened vision, a fever, pus or mucus on the eyes, to mention but a few.