The Red Eye (non-traumatic cases)


About 80 % of the patients referred to our casualty present with a red eye. A careful clinical 
assessment usually produced a correct diagnosis. 

The causes of the red eye can be divided roughly into two groups: 

    • pain with or without  blurring of vision
    • no pain and normal vision
The examination of the patients should include : 
  • Use of contact lens

  • (consider corneal ulcer in contact
    lens users with painful eye)
  • Sticky discharge (suggest

  • infective conjunctivitis)
  • Past history of iritis 

  • (consider recurrence)
  • Presence of itching

  • (allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Assessment of both eyes with Snellen chart (reduced vision needs urgent referrals)

  • Examine the anterior segment with a bright torch and note:

    • injection of the conjunctiva

    • (conjunctivitis)
    • cornea for opacity 

    • (ulcer or acute glaucoma)
    • pupil reaction to light 

    • (fixed pupil is seen in 
      acute glaucoma and iritis)

Patients with pain +/- blurring of vision is likely to have a sight-threatening conditions. 
The most important differential diagnosis are: 

Patient without pain are likely to have a self-limiting conditions, the most common are: