Red eyes usually mean that the white part of the eyes are bloodshot. This occurs when blood vessels supplying the membrane covering the front of the eye change.The membrane covering the front of the eye and lining the eyelids is called conjunctiva. The dilation of blood vessels in this membrane causes the eyes to appear red.
Red eyes can be caused by a number of conditions, but these are the most common:
Pink eye is characterized by inflammation around the eye. There are three forms of this highly contagious condition: bacterial, viral, and allergic.
People who are exposed to pollen often experience eye irritation. Keep indoors when pollen counts are highest to reduce irritation. Usually, this is between mid-morning and early evening.
Redness around the eyes is a common sign of blepharitis, an inflammatory eye condition. Other symptoms include:
There is a less common type of red eye where there is a single, dramatic blood-colored patch on the eye. Usually, this blotch is a bruise, just like you may have on your skin. You might get it after bumping your head or after coughing or sneezing. A hemorrhage is more likely to occur when blood pressure is high and blood thinners are taken.
When a person wears their contacts for too long or in a closed environment (ie. when sleeping), this can cause Contact Lens Overwear Syndrome (also known as contact lens-induced acute red eye, CLARE, or tight lens syndrome). What this means is that the lenses are worn in a way that deprives the eye oxygen. This results in red eyes, pain, inflammation and can in some cases cause more severe complications.
When smoking marijuana the cannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors and widen blood cells which leads to an increase of blood flow to the eye. This increase in blood flow causes the red appearance of eyes when someone smokes cannabis.
One of the most common causes of red eyes is dry eye disease. Where the tear surface is not healthy, either drying out too fast or not draining tears properly. This then causes inflammation on the ocular surface and leads to red eyes in many cases.
There are many treatments available for red eyes. The symptoms of red eyes can often be relieved by resting, applying cool compresses to closed eyes, lightly massaging the eyelids and gently rinsing the eyelids, as well as over-the-counter eye drops. If necessary, an eye doctor may prescribe antibiotics, eye drops, or ointments.
The following are treatments for specific conditions:
Red eye due to allergies:
Aside from avoiding the allergen, over-the-counter eye drops are usually used for treatment. Artificial tear drops can wash allergens from the eye and add moisture which will ease dry, itchy eyes. Decongestant eye drops reduce redness in the eyes due to allergies.
Blepharitis treatment: In most cases, it involves maintaining clean eyelids. You can relieve symptoms by dampening a washcloth with warm water, wringing out excess water, and holding it to the closed eyelids for a few seconds. You can also lightly wash the eyelid with a cotton swab dipped in a mixture of water and baby shampoo. It is important to clean the eyelids regularly once the condition arises, as it usually does not go away completely. In some cases, the eye doctor can prescribe antibiotics or steroid eye drops.
Bacterial or viral pink eye:
Place a warm, damp washcloth over the infected eye for a few minutes. This will also loosen dried mucus if your eyelashes or eyelids are stuck together. To prevent the infection from spreading, use a clean cloth each time. If the pink eye affects both eyes, use a different cloth for each eye. You can also use preservative-free artificial tears.
When that's the case, keep your home's humidity level between 30 and 50 percent. Depending on your climate, you may need a dehumidifier. To prevent mold from growing in high-humidity areas, such as basements or bathrooms, clean them regularly.
When someone has dry eyes that are causing redness, the eye doctor will look to reduce inflammation and recreate a healthy tear film. The exact treatment will depend on the doctor's diagnosis but oftentimes involves clearing out the clogged meibomian oil glands and expression of those glands, which then provide a healthy tear film.
Here are a few reasons why too many eye drops can be harmful to your eyes:
Redness of the eye usually goes away on its own, however it can be a sign of a more serious condition or disorder.
We recommend you talk to our eye care expert if you are experiencing pain, vision changes, pus or mucus coming out of your eyes, or if you have red eyes accompanied by light sensitivity, swelling, or blurry vision, and if your symptoms persist for a week or more, or if they are getting worse.Additionally if you have ongoing red eyes that is impacting your life, and are constantly using eye drops, we recommend that you visit us to have a comprehensive eye exam with our eye doctors to discuss potential treatments and the risks of overuse of eye drops.
Our eye doctor may recommend the use of artificial tears. Artificial tears act like a body's own tears. No prescription is necessary to obtain artificial tears, and they can be used as frequently as necessary.