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The Red Eye

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The “red eye” is a common finding in ophthalmological practice. In fact, one study looking at the etiology of visits to an ophthalmic emergency department found that the vast majority of visits were secondary to ocular surface issues causing “red eye,” including conjunctivitis, blepharitis, and dry eye. The “red” or “pink eye” is really a wastebasket term for a myriad of eye conditions, many of which are benign and self-resolving. However, there are a few sight-threatening and even health-threatening conditions associated with “red eye.” Understanding how these conditions present and are treated is critical to preventing complications.


  • Red eye
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Blepharitis
  • Dry eye
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage
  • Episcleritis
  • Corneal abrasion
  • Scleritis

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-10886-1_8
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Suggested Reading

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  • Channa R, Zafar SN, Canner JK, Haring RS, Schneider EB, Friedman DS. Epidemiology of eye-related emergency department visits. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016;134(3):312–8.

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  • Gritz DC, Wong IG. Incidence and prevalence of uveitis in Northern California; the Northern California Epidemiology of Uveitis Study. Ophthalmology. 2004;111(3):491–500.

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  • Kumar NL, Black D, McClellan K. Daytime presentations to a metropolitan ophthalmic emergency department. Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2005;33(6):586–92.

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Correspondence to Danielle Trief MD, MSc .

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Trief, D. (2019). The Red Eye. In: Casper, D., Cioffi, G. (eds) The Columbia Guide to Basic Elements of Eye Care. Springer, Cham.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-10885-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-10886-1

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