My child has red eyes

In a child as young as 3 years, red and itchy eyes are most likely due to allergy. The allergy can be due to something applied locally. It can also be due to irritation of the eyes as caused by exposure to dust, smoke, e.t.c. It may be a sign of general tiredness or may be associated feature of common cold. Many times people apply koel in eyes of little girls, to make the eyes look big and beautiful. But it can result in red, itchy eyes, due to allergy and or irritation.

Dear Doctor,
My 3-year-old’s eyes are red and itchy. Is this something to worry about or she will be fine? What can I use in the meantime to clear this problem? Mariza

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Dear Mariza,

In a child as young as 3 years, red and itchy eyes are most likely due to allergy. The allergy can be due to something applied locally. It can also be due to irritation of the eyes as caused by exposure to dust, smoke, e.t.c. It may be a sign of general tiredness or may be associated feature of common cold. Many times people apply koel in eyes of little girls, to make the eyes look big and beautiful. But it can result in red, itchy eyes, due to allergy and or irritation.

Infections of the conjunctiva or other parts of the eyes can also cause redness. But it would be associated with pus or watery discharge and even pain sometimes. Injury to the eyes is yet another cause for redness. A child may inadvertently injure her eyes by scratching with nails. A foreign body like a very small piece of wood or gravel may enter the eyes and cause redness.

Glaucoma (where pressure of fluid within eyes is raised) is a sinister condition causing red eyes in a small child as in an adult. In a child it can be present since birth as a birth anomaly or develop around 1 year of age. It can be a sequel to cataract surgery in a child. But here along with a red eye, there is visual difficulty and pain in the eyes with headache.

Anti allergy medicine is available in form of eye drops to treat allergic conjunctivitis. Along with face, eyes can also be washed with clean, cool water. In case of presence of other associated problems like pain, discharge, e.t.c. with redness, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

Dr Rachna Pande  is a specialist in internal medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital

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