Red Bloodshot Eyes – Causes, Symptom, and Treatment

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Red bloodshot eyes is described as a condition where the blood vessels located in the outer surface of the cornea appear swollen and in some cases, broken with minor bleeding giving the eye a reddened appearance on the sclera. This enlargement of blood vessels stems from an inadequate oxygen flow to the cornea. The extent of the redness in bloodshot eyes may range from minor redness in the corners of the eyes to localized reddening on specific parts of the cornea which is a result of hemorrhage in the blood vessels located in the cornea. Bloodshot eyes do not evoke a major medical concern until they accompany other serious symptoms like eye pain, hazy vision and fever.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of bloodshot eyes vary from person to person which are dependent on the actual cause that leads to reddening in eyes. These include:

Redness or bright red blotches in the cornea
Discharge
Gritty feeling
Inflammation on eyelids
Colds
Headache
Visual disturbances
Sensitivity to light
Pain in the eyes
Burning sensation
Nausea

If you experience pain and disturbances in your vision along with reddening of the cornea, you need to get yourself examined by an opthalmologist to avoid any damage to your vision.

CAUSES

Allergies

Any inflammation on the outer surface of the eye can be a result of allergy to external irritants like pollen, dust, chemicals, cosmetics and environmental pollution. Allergic red eye accompanies other symptoms like sneezing, coughing and watery eyes.

Dry Eyes

Staring at bright screens for long durations lowers the blinking rate of eyes and leads to dry eyes. Severely dry eyes have a greater likelihood of turning into red eye, if adequate measures are not undertaken to treat the condition.

Subconjuctival Hemorrhage

Bloodshot eyes often appear as bright red patches on the cornea which are caused by bleeding in blood vessels located in the cornea. This bleeding is termed as Subconjunctival Hemorrhage and may be brought on by factors like hypertension, a blood disorder called hemophillia or as a side effect of blood thinning medications.

Contact Lenses

Wearing contact lenses on a regular basis influences tear production in the eyes making them dry and irritated. If the lenses are not disinfected properly, they may lead to inflammation and infections in the eyes resulting in bloodshot eyes.

Eye Infections

Bacterial or viral eye infections are one of the factors leading to development of Red eye. Also termed as Pink Eye, this condition leads to inflammation on the outer membrane lining the cornea and the eyelids giving a reddened appearance to the eyes.

Sleep Disorders

Disruptions in sleep patterns adversely affect eye health and lead to inflammation of tiny blood vessels in the eyes, thereby causing dry and red eyes.

Injury

Any injury to the eye may lead to bruising or bleeding from broken blood vessels in the cornea. The physical trauma may also result in inflammation in the cornea leading to red eye.

Alcohol Consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption gives rise to dilation of blood vessels which makes the blood in the vessels flow at a higher speed making the eyes appear red and inflamed.

Glaucoma

Many people suffering from glaucoma report redness in the eyes along with blurry vision. This condition is a result of damage to the optic nerve which causes pressure in the eyes and makes them appear inflamed.

TREATMENT

Treatment of bloodshot eyes is done by adopting a two-pronged approach targeting the symptoms and cause behind the condition. Most cases of bloodshot eyes can be resolved at home without seeking any medical help. If you notice pain and blurred vision or if the condition is caused by injury, inappropriate use of contact lenses and other underlying conditions like glaucoma or subconjunctival hemorrhage, it’s better to get yourself treated by an eye doctor. We have outlined some ways to manage symptoms of bloodshot eyes at home.

Ice Pack

The dilated blood vessels in bloodshot eyes can be fixed by applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth. The cold temperature if the ice helps in constricting enlarged blood vessels and stop any bleeding that results from burst blood vessels.

Warm Compresses

Warm compresses offer relief from red eyes caused by sleep deprivation, allergies and dry eye by soothing eye muscles and activating oil glands in dry eyes. One should avoid using warm compresses right after eye injury or in subconjunctival hemorrage as the heat may lead to enlargement if blood vessels.

Artificial Tears

Using artificial tears helps in lubricating the eyes and provides relief from dry eyes. Some anti-histamines are known to lead to dryness in eyes. This can be prevented by using artificial tears with anti-allergy eye drops for treating bloodshot eyes caused by allergies.

OTC Eye Drops

To get relief from eye redness resulting from eye infections, over-the-counter anti-bacterial or anti-histamine eye drops can be used. These drops help in bringing relief from inflammation caused by allergies or bacteria.

About the Author

Harvey Lee is a health and beauty blogger and works with various industry leading health and beauty product brands e.g. EyeSoothe: UK’s leading Eye Mask brand for various eye issues including Blepharitis, MGD, Dry eye syndrome and more. Harvey strongly recommends seeking physician opinion before replacing medication with natural or other non-clinical remedies.

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