Some reasons why your eyes might be bloodshot
There are many reasons why you might have red eyes. In this blog post, we look at some of the most common causes of itchy, irritated, and bloodshot eyes.
Reason 1: You might have an eye infection (like pink eye)
Redness in your eyes might be caused by an irksome eye infection known as pink eye. Scientifically, conjunctivitis is its name, and it’s one of the most common—and jarringly contagious—eye conditions out there. Pink eye occurs when the conjunctiva (the thin, transparent front part of the eye) becomes infected, thus irritating the blood vessels in the eye. In response, these blood vessels flare up, causing the eye to get bright pink. If you’ve ever had pink eye, or know someone who has, it can look very unpleasant. But don’t worry: pink eye treatments are available. Visit your eye doctor for more information—they will be able to prescribe specialized eye drops to help provide you with some relief. Want to learn more about this troublesome condition? Read more about pink eye here.
Reason 2: You might have dry eyes
Red eyes may also be a symptom of extreme dry eyes. It may also suggest that a condition called dry eye syndrome is present. Dry eye syndrome occurs when tear gland production is insufficient, and your eyes are unable to produce an adequate quantity of tears. Natural tear lubricating drops and other medicated eye drops can bring a degree of comfort, but only temporarily. Overall, you might want to rethink the amount of time spent in front of screens. Such a step can be a difference-maker in helping alleviate symptoms. It’s a good way to help soothe those red, itchy eyes.
While dry eye syndrome can’t be completely cured, it can be managed by administering a proper eye drop regime. There are also surgical options—an eye surgeon can insert a tiny, biocompatible plug called a punctal plug. These block drainage and encourage tear production. Speak to your eye doctor for more information about both these solutions.
Reason 3: You have allergies
Seasonal allergies are nobody’s idea of a good time. Beyond the itchy throat and incessant sneezing, allergies are also characterized by red, itchy eyes that water. Red eyes are commonly indicative of an allergic reaction to something airborne (like pollen or dust mites) or contact to pet dander. In reaction to intaking a foreign substance that your body might be allergic to, your body begins to produce a substance called histamines. The same thing happens when an allergen meets your eye. This can cause the itchiness and redness.
With allergies, one way many people try to provide relief is by rubbing their eyes. But, we advise against doing this as it can worsen the condition. Read about the negative effects that eye-rubbing can have on your itchy eyes here. In the meantime, instead of resorting to eye-rubbing, you can apply a warm compress to your eyes.
Reason 4: Leaving in your contact lenses way longer than you should
Contact lenses can be more trouble than they’re worth: they are an extra step to your morning routine, and you need to remove them by day’s end. They require a lot of attention. It’s easy to see why someone would want to skip that step, and just fall asleep with them still in their eyes. However, this step can cause friction and irritation in the eye, resulting in redness. More seriously, leaving contacts in longer than is recommended can lead to serious infection. It’s best to take care of your contact lenses and remove them after a reasonable amount of time —or think about a procedure like LASIK to simplify your routine.
Reason 5: Red eyes, the result of smoking
There are so many reasons why smoking is bad for you. But did you know it’s also bad for your eyesight? That’s right, regular, long-term cigarette smoke can be harmful to your eyes. Cigarette smoke can lead to red eyes—especially in contact lens wearers. The smoke from a cigarette can irritate eyes that wear contact lenses, while smoking contributes to an eye that lacks the normal levels of moisture.
Also: marijuana smokers know that lighting up can sometimes cause red eyes. This happens because of a change in pressure in the eye. The psychoactive endocannabinoid ingredient in marijuana, THC, causes the blood pressure to decrease. As a result, inner-eye pressure drops—which causes blood vessels and capillaries to dilate. So that’s why smoking marijuana can have that effect.
Reason 6: Chlorine (and other types of pool sanitizers) can cause redness
You should always remove your contact lenses before diving into any body of water (and yes, that includes showers). Leaving them in puts you at risk for contracting some nasty infections, in addition to irritated, red eyes.
Reason 7: You’re tired!
Fatigue leaves you feeling lethargic, and unproductive. It also has the very undesirable effect of turning your eyes red. The most obvious way to soothe red, fatigued eyes is by getting a good night’s sleep.
Reason 8: Glaucoma—red eyes, a symptom of a bigger concern
Glaucoma, usually an eye disease that is the result of aging, slowly but surely makes itself known. Bright, red eyes may mean that you have glaucoma, and it’s therefore important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Find out more about glaucoma, and what it means for your eye health, here.
Reason 9: Your eyes look red in pictures
While this isn’t a disease or eye condition, you might sometimes notice red eyes when you take a photo. Wondering what this is? It’s called the red eye effect, and what happens might come as a surprise to you.
When you take a picture using a flash function, the camera makes a big burst of light. This is intended to illuminate the subject of your photo—and if it’s a person or animal, it can cause that red eye effect. Sometimes the burst of light enters through the eye’s open pupil, and bounces of the back of the eye. The red you’re seeing is actually…blood. The blood is found in the part of the eye called the choroid, the part of the eye that also happens to supply oxygenated blood to the retina. Luckily, many photo editing software can remove the appearance of red eyes in an image.
Here’s how to get rid of bloodshot eyes
In addition to the items mentioned above, there are so many ways you can get rid of inflamed, bloodshot eyes. If you want an immediate fix, and don’t have time to pay a visit to the eye doctor, here’s what you can do:
- As mentioned above, close your eyes, and apply a warm compress to them; this can help increase oil production which will help moisten the eyes.
- Avoid smoking and drinking—this should go without saying
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is a great way to prevent red, irritated eyes from taking over your day.
It bears repeating but if you notice that the problem is persistent, or you suspect a condition like glaucoma might be on the horizon, see your eye doctor. In the mean time, using natural lubricating drops is a great way to help assuage your bloodshot eyes.
Something (else) you can do to help your eyes
It doesn’t matter if your red eye is an intolerance to contact lenses or if it’s caused by a viral infection—it’s important for you to stay on top of any eye condition you might be encountering. For this reason, we recommend scheduling regular visits with your eye doctor.
And while a LASIK procedure won’t prevent redness caused by something like allergies—it can guard against your intolerance to contact lenses! Just imagine how free you’ll feel from no longer having to worry about contact lenses at the end of the day.
Find out if you’re a candidate! Book your free, no-obligation consultation today and see if LASIK is the right procedure for you—and your red eyes!