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Quiz: Do You Have a Red Eye Infection?

A red eye infection can be extremely uncomfortable. Learn about the remedies and treatments that can help you achieve relief from this eye condition.

Woman rubbing her left eye uncomfortably

A red eye infection can potentially cause vision loss. Therefore, taking steps to control it is crucial to ensure it doesn’t impair your quality of life. Likewise, an early diagnosis can help treat the condition effectively and prevent the infection from spreading.

Ready to Learn the Cause of Your Red Eye Infection? 

Generally, a “red eye” describes irritated, red, or bloodshot eyes that are also accompanied by swelling, eye discharge and blurred vision. Many reasons cause a red eye infection. In some cases, it may not really be an infection at all. Let’s find out what your answers indicate and the treatments available for red eye conditions.

If your answers are mostly A’s: You might have Dry Eye Syndrome (DES)  

Elderly woman massaging her eyes to relieve discomfort
Dry eye syndrome (DES) is common in women and people over the age of 65.

DES occurs when you don’t have sufficient natural tears to lubricate the eyes. However, it is common in women and people over the age of 65. Treatments usually include over-the-counter artificial tear solutions and home remedies like lid massage and resting the eyes. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and more specifically, the Lingshu (灵枢) segment of the Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Internal Medicine notes:

“The eyes are infused and powered with the essence of all the vital viscera.

The essence of the bones, which are governed by the kidneys, gives rise to the pupil; and the essence of the sinews which are governed by the liver, gives rise to the iris.

The essence of blood, which is governed by the heart, gives rise to the blood vessels; while the essence of qi (vital energy), which is governed by the lungs, gives rise to the sclera.

Finally, the essence of the muscles, which are governed by the spleen, gives rise to the eyelids.” 

In short, the different eye components have direct connections to various organs. Therefore, it can indicate internal problems of organs or systems.

A separate study also shows that 6 out of 12 patients with DES report an improvement of symptoms after undergoing acupuncture treatment. 

If your answers are mostly B’s: You might have a red eye infection

Close-up of a woman's red eye infection
An untreated red eye infection can potentially cause vision loss.

Red eye conditions can come from allergies or bacterial or viral pink eye. Fortunately, mild conditions usually resolve on their own. It’s advisable to gently wash the eyelids with warm water to keep the eyes clean. Also, rest the eyes and place cool compresses over them to relieve any discomfort. Additionally, you can get over-the-counter eye drops, or an eye doctor may prescribe antibiotics to ease the symptoms. 

In TCM, it’s the result of a flow-together of exogenous (external) wind and heat, or endogenous (internal) liver fire that is either endogenous or exogenous. From this point of view, the consumption of specific herbal formulations and ingredients is beneficial for relieving the symptoms of a red eye infection. These include: 

  • chrysanthemum (ju hua, 菊花) 
  • dandelion (pu gong ying, 蒲公英) 
  • cassia seeds (jue ming zi, 决明子) 
  • cicada slough (chan tui, 蝉蜕) 
  • mint leaves (bo he ye, 薄荷叶) 
  • mulberry leaves (sang ye, 桑叶) 
  • pale butterfly bush flower (mi meng hua, 密蒙花) 
  • Prunella self-heal spike (xia ku cao, 夏枯草) 
  • shrub chaste tree fruit (man jing zi, 蔓荆子) 
  • Huang Lian Shang Qing Pian (黄连上清片)  
  • Xia Sang Ju granules (夏桑菊冲剂) 

You may also wish to try the Jiang Huo Tea or Qing Liang Clearing Tea to clear Heat.

Caution: Take note that the herbs and formulas above are for generic cases of red eye infection. According to Senior TCM physician Brandon Yew, “Some people might benefit, some might not, while others may even experience a worsening of their existing condition or give rise to new problems.”  

Always get a proper assessment from a TCM practitioner before consuming any herbal formulations. 

Easing Red Eye Infection with Acupressure 

3D illustration of the Fengchi, Taichong and Hegu acupoints.
Applying pressure to the Fengchi, Taichong and Hegu acupoints can alleviate a mild red eye infection.

The stimulation of several acupoints below can help relief the symptoms of red eye infection:  

  • Fengchi (GB 20): In the depression between the origins of the Sternocleidomastoid and Trapezius muscles, at the junction of the occipital and nuchal regions 
  • Hegu (LI 4): On the dorsum of the hand, between the 1st and 2nd metacarpal bones) 
  • Jingming (BL 1): On the face, in the depression superior to the inner canthus 
  • Taichong (LR 3): On the dorsum of the foot, in the depression proximal to the 1st metatarsal space 
  • Taiyang (EX-HN5): In the region of the temples, in the depression about one finger-breadth posterior to the midpoint between the lateral end of the eyebrow and the outer canthus 
  • Yifeng (SJ 17): It’s the posterior to the lobule of the ear in a depression between the mandible and the mastoid process. 

The best way to do this is to massage these points in a clockwise and anti-clockwise circulation motion. Generally,you can do this 20 times and repeat for at least 3 minutes per acupoint. However, acupressure may only alleviate a mild red eye infection. For severe cases, you should seek professional help from both an ophthalmologist and a TCM practitioner. 

Apart from the suggestions above, you can also try tonics that contain marigold flower extract, goji berries, algae astaxanthin and DHA to preserve the health of your eyes. 

Determining if your symptoms point towards a red eye infection or dry eye syndrome will go a long way in treating either condition. Therefore, if your red eyes don’t subside after more than a week, or if the condition is affecting your vision, consult a practitioner or ophthalmologist for a proper diagnosis.


  1. US National Library of Medicine. 2020. Traditional Chinese medicine Xiaosheng Powder for dry eye disease. [Accessed 1 December 2021]
  2. American Optometric Association. Dry eye – treatment. [Accessed 1 December 2021]
  3. Cleveland Clinic. 2018. Red Eye – Care and Treatment. [Accessed 1 December 2021]

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