Your eyes are often considered to be a window into your soul, so it’s understandable that you don’t want them to be red and sore. Eye redness can happen when the blood vessels on the surface of your eye expand or dilate. This can happen when a foreign object or substance has gotten into your eye or when infection has formed.
Eye redness is usually temporary and clears up quickly. Here are some things you can do to make the process easier.
There are many reasons why the whites of the eyes turn red. If this happens without pain, it is often not serious. It can often be prevented or eased with home care.
Other terms for red eye, include “pink eye” and “bloodshot eyes.” Irritation, blood in the eye, or inflamed blood vessels can cause the eye to appear red.
Often, the cause is not serious, and home remedies can resolve the problem. Sometimes there is a more serious underlying condition.
An eye with a sharp, aching, or throbbing pain, or a pain that gets worse in response to light, needs urgent medical help.
Other reasons to see a doctor are if eyesight changes or there are other symptoms. Symptoms to look out for include headache, sensitivity to light, feeling sick, or vomiting.
Short-term solutions for red eyes
The right remedy for your red eyes depends on the specific cause. Generally, one or more of the following will ease the discomfort of most cases of red eyes.
Soak a towel in warm water and wring it out. The area around the eyes is sensitive, so keep the temperature at a reasonable level. Place the towel on your eyes for about 10 minutes. The heat can increase blood flow to the area. It can also increase oil production on your eyelids. This allows your eyes to create more lubrication.
If a warm compress isn’t working, you can take the opposite approach. A towel soaked in cool water and wrung out may also provide short-term relief for red eye symptoms. It can relieve any swelling and reduce any itchiness from irritation. Be sure to avoid any extremes of temperature in the area around your eyes, or you may make the problem worse.
Tears lubricate your eyes and help keep them clean. Short-term or long-term dryness might call for over-the-counter artificial tears to keep your eyes healthy. If cool artificial tears are recommended, consider refrigerating the solution.
Long-term solutions for red eyes
If you regularly experience red, irritated eyes, you may need to think beyond quick fixes. Here are a few lifestyle changes that may relieve your symptoms. You should also talk to your doctor if the problem persists.
If you’re experiencing chronic eye redness and you wear contact lenses, the problem may involve your eyewear. The materials found inside certain lenses can increase your likelihood for infection or irritation. If you’ve recently switched lenses — or if you’ve had the same type of lenses for a while — and experience redness, talk to your eye doctor. They can help you pinpoint the problem.
The contact solution that you use can also affect your eyes. Certain solution ingredients aren’t as compatible with certain lens materials. Make sure you’re using the best contact solution for your lenses.
Pay attention to your diet
If you aren’t staying hydrated, it can cause your eyes to be bloodshot. Generally, a person needs about 8 cups of water a day to maintain a proper fluid balance.
Eating an excessive amount of inflammatory foods may cause eye redness. Processed foods, dairy products, and fast foods can all cause inflammation if eaten in excess. You can relieve this by limiting the amount you eat or adding more inflammation-reducing foods to your diet.
ResearchTrusted Source has found that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation. These are commonly found in fish, such as salmon, and seeds and nuts, such as flaxseed. You can also take supplements containing omega-3s.
Be aware of your surroundings
Your environment can also affect your eyes. If you’re constantly surrounded by allergens, such as pollen or smoke, it may be at the root of the problem. Dry air, humidity, and wind can also have an effect.
What causes red eyes?
Although there are countless reasons why your eyes may be red, these are the most common:
Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
As the name suggests, pink eye can cause inflammation in the eye area. The highly contagious condition appears in three forms: bacterial, viral, and allergic.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is typically treated with a prescription antibiotic. Viral conjunctivitis can be soothed with a cool compress and cool artificial tears. Symptoms generally clear in less than two weeks.
Allergic conjunctivitis also benefits from cool compresses and cool artificial tears. You should also consider cool allergy eye drops. Your doctor can help you identify the specific source of irritation and how to reduce it.
Many people experience eye irritation when exposed to pollen. To reduce irritation, stay inside when pollen counts are highest. This is usually during mid-morning and early evening. You should also take precautions when conditions are windy. Use eye protection outdoors.
Mold is another common allergen. If that’s the case for you, keep the humidity level of your home between 30 and 50 percent. If you live in a humid climate, you may need a dehumidifier. Make sure you regularly clean high-humidity areas, such as basements or bathrooms, to keep them free of mold.
Pet dander can be controlled with some common sense strategies. If possible, keep your pets outside. You should also keep them away from things that will touch your eyes, such as bed pillows. Avoid rubbing your eyes after touching your pet, and wash your hands after any contact has been made.
Blepharitis is a common inflammatory eye disorder that causes redness in the eye area. It can also cause:
There isn’t any strong evidenceTrusted Source to suggest that antibiotics are effective against blepharitis. Conventional remedies call for keeping the eyelids clean and using a warm compress.