After a long day at work, have you noticed that your eyes sometimes look devilish red? Don’t worry, red eye is not a serious eye condition but it can cause certain discomforts like pain, itching and blurred vision. Wondering how to get rid of red eyes?


In this blog, you will learn more about what causes red eye, the symptoms and its treatments so that the next time your eyes look bloodshot, you don’t panic and know exactly how to deal with it.


What is Red Eye?


Red eyes or more often known as bloodshot eyes, that make you look like the angry emoticon, is a common eye condition.  It mostly occurs as a reaction to foreign particles in the eye, dust, or allergens that cause infection and irritation. The redness characteristic to red eye is caused by the expansion of the small blood vessels that lie just below the eye’s surface. The inflammation of the blood vessels turns the white part of the eye (sometimes both eyes) to a pinkish or red tint. While generally, red eye is a temporary condition that poses no particular risk to eye health, there can be cases where it might be indicating some other health issue.


Red Eye Symptoms


Apart from the ghoulish redness, there are other signs of red eyes that include:


  • Persistent irritation
  • Burning, itchy sensation
  • Dryness accompanied by gritty feeling
  • Severe pain
  • Clear discharge
  • Watery eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision
  • Seeing a halo around light sources
  • Swollen eyes


What causes red eyes?


The causes for red-eye could be something as simple as wearing contact lenses for too long or serious eye conditions like glaucoma. If you have frequent episodes of red eyes, you need to keep a track of what exactly triggers the condition.


Rather than a condition in itself, red eyes are more like a symptom of other eye diseases. Some eye conditions that can cause red eye include:


1) Allergies:


Pet dander, pollen, grass, or weeds can come in direct contact with the eyes and cause redness, tearing and irritation. Eye allergies usually affect both the eyes and rubbing the eyes can worsen the redness and itching.


2) Prolonged use of contact lens:


Using contact lenses for longer periods of time can restrict the direct oxygen supply to the eye. Wearing contact lenses for periods longer than recommended can cause red eye and infectious inflammation caused by bacteria and fungi. The inflammation can worsen and in some cases, it may also cause microbial keratitis or corneal ulcer.


3) Dry eyes:


Imbalanced tear drainage due to dry eye syndrome can lead to bloodshot eyes and cause red eye symptoms like constant tearing or fatigued eyes. This chronic eye condition causes the eyes to become red, inflamed and irritated.


4) Conjunctivitis:


Commonly known as pink eye, it occurs when the conjunctiva, a thin, clear membrane that covers the lining of the eyelid and the white part of your eye becomes inflamed. It usually happens due to a viral or bacterial attack. Often contagious, the pink eye gets its name from the characteristic redness caused during the condition.


5) Broken blood vessels:


When the blood vessels under the surface of the eyes break, the leaked blood gets trapped and turns the white portion of the eye to a red tint. The blood vessels can damage due to a strong sneeze, persistently rubbing the eyes, heavy-lifting, etc. and cause red eye. It can also occur if you use blood-thinning medicines. Even though broken blood vessels in the eye sound like a serious condition, it is painless and generally harmless too.


6) Glaucoma:


It is an eye condition caused by fluid buildup in the eye that results in optic nerve damage. Even though initially painless, glaucoma is a serious eye disease that is a notoriously leading cause of blindness among people over the age of sixty years. People with glaucoma might notice red eye symptoms like blurred vision, irritation and reddened eyes.


Other causes of red eyes can be:


  • Exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Allergic reaction to certain smells or perfumes
  • Chlorine in swimming pool
  • Corneal abrasion
  • Complications caused by previous eye surgery
  • Blepharitis
  • Stye


Red Eye Treatment


Despite the fact that in most cases, red eye is a temporary condition, the discomfort can ruin your day. So, how to get rid of red eye?


Let’s have a look at the preventive measures and red eye treatments.


  1. Do not underestimate the power of your beauty sleep: Adequate sleep ensures that your eyes are well-rested and you do not reach the office with fatigued, red eyes. You don’t want to look hung-over at the 9 AM meeting!
  2. Cut down on screen time as much as possible: Glaring continuously at the screen tends to break the natural blinking tendency and causes redness. If your work demands prolonged screen time, make sure you take breaks to relax the eyes and wear anti-blue light glasses.
  3. Ditch contact lenses for a while: Let your eyes breathe openly without the restriction of contact lenses. Wearing eyeglasses can prevent the chances of red eye caused due to bacterial or viral attacks.
  4. Stay hydrated: Well, this might sound like an overrated eye care tip but it works. Drinking an adequate amount of water and using good quality eye drops can help keep the eyes moist and prevent red eye symptoms like inflammation and irritation.
  5. Avoid rubbing the eyes: While it might seem to be the most tempting thing to do when the irritation in the eye annoys, rubbing your eyes can actually worsen the redness. Wash your eyes with clean cold water and control the urge to unnecessarily touch your eyes.
  6. Cold compress: It is a great home remedy and effective preventive measure as well as red eye treatment. Use a cold cloth and place it over the eyes to get rid of the inflammation and swelling. It also helps reduce eye fatigue and soothes the eyes.


In most cases, red eye can be treated at home. However, look out for red eye symptoms that may need immediate medical attention. Contact your doctor in case of:


  • Extreme difficulty in seeing
  • Severe pain along with redness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Trauma to the eye
  • Swelling around the eye and inability to open the eye
  • Thick pus oozing from the eye


According to the intensity of the condition, your eye specialist can recommend eye drops and prescribe antibiotics, ointments and oral drugs to provide relief from the symptoms.


Get in touch with The Eye Lab for more information about red eye and other related eye diseases.