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question

Can a cold make my eyes red and congested?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy
answer
A cold can make your eyes red and congested. Be careful not to touch or rub them, and wash your hands often so you don't spread the virus. Use a cool or warm compress as needed for relief. Other causes of red, congested eyes include allergies and conjunctivitis, or "pink eye." Conjunctivitis can be caused by a virus or bacteria. See your doctor if the redness and congestion don't clear up after a day or two, you develop a yellow or green discharge, or you have sudden pain or changes in your eyesight.
Richard G. Shugarman, MD
Richard G. Shugarman, MD on behalf of American Academy of Ophthalmology's EyeSmart
Ophthalmology
answer
An agent that caused an upper-respiratory infection can reach the surface of the eyes as well. All these surfaces are what doctors call mucus membranes and are subject to many of the same illnesses, most of which are viral in origin. As such, they are usually self-limited and will go away in due course. Bacterial infections can respond to appropriate antibiotics. Allergies and toxic reactions can cause similar symptoms. Inflammation of the sinuses from any cause can sometimes block the tear-duct openings as well.

Visine will have no effect on the course of the disease process other than to dilute and rinse away the ocular discharge. Oral antihistamines, steam inhalation, and nose drops may provide symptomatic relief. If there is blurring of vision, ocular pain, or failure to improve after a day or two, see an ophthalmologist.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.