ZocdocAnswersWhy do I always wake up with red eyes?

Question

Why do I always wake up with red eyes?

For several years now, each morning I wake up with red eyes (lower half only, upper half above pupil is not red). I have to use eye drops so that people don't think I'm on drugs. It doesn't come back until I sleep and awake again to the mirror's inevitable result. What could cause this? * Lack of oxygen while asleep due to deviated septum from birth? * Smoking cigarettes? * Dusty pillow case? * Recurring sinus / random allergic reaction? * Reduced oil production due to taking Accutane as a child? Can't seem to find someone who has exact symptoms that match. Most have recurring redness. Mine is only when I wake up. Regardless of hours slept (3 hours or 12 hours, no difference). And logic seems to point out that the eye drops are not the culprit, or the redness would return throughout the day. Any help or suggestions are definitely appreciated.

Answer

It sounds like this is a rather vexing problem! You have clearly given your situation a great deal of thought, and many of the things you suggest can sometimes cause red eyes. However, as you point out, none of them truly seem to fit the situation your describe. The best way to identify what is causing your symptoms is to see an eye specialist right away. Getting to the bottom of what is causing your symptoms will require a careful review of not only your history but also an eye exam. You mentioned taking accutane as a child, but other prior or current health issues and/or medications can affect your eyes so it will be important for an opthalmologist to consider these issues when evaluating your eye. Furthermore, some eye problems are manifestations of other systemic illnesses, so your doctor will want to know about any other new symptoms or changes in your health you have noticed recently. Finally, when considering any kind of eye problem, a full examination including dilation of the pupil is very important. From your description it is not clear if the lining of the eye (conjunctiva) or the white of the eye (sclera) is red, and your doctor will want to use a slit lamp and fundoscope to look inside the eye to identify which part of the eye is irritated/inflamed. Also, if you do notice any vision changes or pain, you should seek medical care at an emergency department.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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