‘Red eyes’ is an all encompassing term that can mean a couple of different things. The white of the eye (the sclera) can sometimes appear bloodshot. This is where a number of red or pink lines appear in the white of the eye. Alternatively, the sclera may appear more blush pink or red, leaving little white to be seen.
Bloodshot eyes often have no other accompanying symptoms. However, sometimes they may be coupled with itchiness, dryness, pain, soreness or blurry vision. Red eyes can affect one eye or both at the same time and are worthy of further investigation, especially if you have other symptoms.
What Causes Red Eyes?
The causes of red eyes range from the benign to the serious, which is why an appointment with your optician is vital to get to the underlying cause of your bloodshot eyes. The squiggly lines that you often see on the sclera of your eye when they are red, are caused by the dilation of minuscule blood vessels. They swell up and become visible. There are many simple causes for this including:
- Eye tiredness
- Wearing contact lenses for an extended period of time
- Eye infection
These are relatively benign causes and can be rectified with appropriate short term treatment as prescribed by your optician.
Allergens will always need to be investigated. Some people may find hayfever to be a prime culprit in causing red eyes, and drops specific to the pollen that you are allergic to can rectify the issue and help with your symptoms. Smoke, dust and chlorine in swimming pools can also cause acute red eyes.
If you are a big fan of gaming, scrolling through your Facebook feed, spending a little too long watching the TV, staying up late at night, smoking or drinking, you may find your chances of suffering from red eyes increasing.
More serious causes of red eyes include:
- Laser eye surgery
- Corneal Ulcer
- Eye trauma
If you have red eyes that remain chronic, you must visit your optician for further investigations.
What Are The Treatments For Red Eyes?
There are a huge variety of causes of red eyes which means the treatment method will differ for each individual. A visit to the optician is essential. They will ask you questions about your lifestyle, such as your sleep pattern, whether you have a job that means a lot of screen time each day and whether you have conditions such as hayfever or any allergies. These causes tend to result in acute red eyes that can be rectified with a course of drops.
If you do spend a lot of time on a tablet or a smartphone, it might be time to cut your screen time. This gives your eyes some rest and they will be less strained. If you struggle with a sleep routine, simple tweaks to your evenings can see you rest your weary bones and get eight hours of solid shut eye. Try to relax, run yourself a hot bath, refrain from the laptop and relax with some calming music before bed. When you hit the sack, your body and mind will be more ready for sleep leading to less red eyes when you wake up in the morning.
Hayfever can be a major cause of seasonal red eyes. In the spring and summer months, you may find yourself with bloodshot eyes as well as a runny or stuffy nose, drowsiness, cough and sneezing fits. Hayfever caused by an allergy to pollen can result in your body producing histamine. This is a response that your body has to any allergen. While the bloodshot eyes aren’t directly as a result of hayfever, the rubbing, tiredness and watery eyes that hayfever causes can cause red eyes as a secondary symptom. You must try not to rub them, otherwise the itching will get worse. Instead, try to take an antihistamine to block the response that your body takes to allergens. This can help relieve your sore eyes, your sneezing and your runny nose.
Many other conditions that are more chronic, result in pain or blurry vision that will require more in-depth investigations by your optician. If your red eyes occur suddenly, are severe or are accompanied by any sort of pain, nausea, vomiting or headache, this should be deemed as an emergency and you must see a medical professional urgently.
Initially, you should forego wearing any makeup and try and leave your eyes free from any human made products. Wash with water and refrain from getting soap or shampoo near your eyes. Ensure that you place a cold compress on your eyes to relieve itching or any burning sensation that you may be suffering from. Anything that you find soothing will be beneficial.
If you are tempted to use some eye drops, don’t just pick the cheapest ones from your local pharmacy. It’s important to visit your optician first and ask for their advice. Many eye drops can actually make red eyes worse, especially if you are suffering from conjunctivitis and you need to use an antibiotic drop.
With conjunctivitis, you may find that your red eyes are accompanied by a sticky discharge. More often than not only one eye is affected. While it could be caused by a bacterial infection or a virus, if after a week the symptoms are still present, antibiotic drops will be prescribed.
If your optician does suspect glaucoma, a more serious condition of the eye, specialist treatment will be needed. Glaucoma can result in vision loss because of pressure building up inside of your eye. This affects the optic nerve and pain alongside bloodshot eyes is always a cause for concern.
Try not to worry if you are suffering from bloodshot eyes. The chances are that the underlying cause can be treated successfully. However, red eyes should be investigated by an optician to ensure that there is nothing more serious at play. Your eyes and your vision are precious, so look after them and get them checked out.