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I have glaucoma and my eyes are red – what’s going on?

I have glaucoma and my eyes are red – what’s going on?

Nobody likes to have red eyes. It makes you look tired and unwell and can be the source of frequent comments about your appearance. Unfortunately it is an all too common problem in patients with glaucoma. That is because many of the treatments and sometimes the condition itself can cause red eyes. It is important to have an understanding of the cause as treatments are available. I have on many occasions seen long suffering patients who are on the incorrect treatment because the underlying cause was over looked.

  • It’s the medication! The commonest cause of a red eye in a patient being treated for glaucoma is the medication they are taking. This is usually the cause until proven otherwise. This is because either the active ingredient or the preservatives can cause the eyes to be come red. In this circumstance, with-holding the medication will allow the redness to go.
  • Is it an infection? This is a less common cause for a red eye in a patient with glaucoma but it is very important to exclude, particularly if glaucoma surgery has been performed in the past. That is because infection in combination with glaucoma surgery can lead to a potentially blinding condition called endophthalmitis.
  • Is it the glaucoma? Some types of glaucoma can cause red eyes if poorly controlled. This includes any glaucoma where the eye pressure is very high or when there is intra-ocular inflammation

Posted by Dr Colin Clement


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