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Is that red eye an infection?

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Red eye from a virus

Did you know that your red eyes can be caused by viruses too?A red eye can be caused by Herpes Simplex virus. It’s a virus that affects children as chicken pox. The virus may remain dormant in the body, and resurface by fever, stress, or when the person is immuno-compromised. When it occurs in the eye, it attacks the epithelial layer of the cornea, leading to corneal ulcer and significantly reduced vision. The individuals also has reduced sensation at the cornea, so she/he may not experience or complain of much pain.

The affected individual may experience redness in only one eye, become very light sensitive, and tearing. When affected, the treatment must be done aggressively and promptly to minimize deep ulceration in the cornea.  It may take 7 to 10 days of anti-viral eye drops or oral anti-viral medications to recover. But if not treated promptly, scar tissue can occur in the cornea, leading to loss of vision. 

When you see a red eye in your friend or your co-worker, ask them if they have their eyes checked.

Dr. Yan L. Liang, BSc OD
Markham Optometrist

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