Red eye is a common symptom that presents in primary care practice, and may be accompanied by pain, irritation, or discharge. It is a sign of ocular inflammation, often involving the anterior segment of the eye. Most causes of red eye are benign; however, the primary care physician must identify when urgent referral to an ophthalmologist is required. This may be achieved through targeted questioning regarding the chronicity, intensity of pain, vision changes, and associated symptoms. The following article outlines an approach to identifying the cause of red eye using history and physical exam findings. Common features of red eye disorders and their respective treatment modalities are discussed.
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