Usually caused by allergies, infection or contact lenses — red eyes are a common eye syndrome that occurs when the blood vessels in the eye become irritant or swollen. The redness happens in the sclera — the white part of the eye. The appearance can vary from individual to individual. In some cases — there are numerous squiggly red threads or lines on the sclera, while in some cases, the whole white part turns red.

It is not necessary that both eyes will become red simultaneously. Sometimes — only one eye is affected.

Some common symptoms of eye redness are:

  • Blurry Vision
  • Discharge from one or both eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Burning sensation
  • Watery eyes
  • Pain
  • Irritation

Usually, there are no symptoms other than red eyes which also suggests that the eye problems are minor. If the eye redness is accompanied by a severe symptom, it indicates a major eye problem.

What causes red eyes?

The colour of eyes changes from red to white when the tiny blood vessels, which are located between mucous and conjunctiva, are either swollen or inflamed. The cause of eye redness can vary depending upon the condition and age of the person. It can also be due to an environmental factor or as a symptom or complication of some other disease.

However, in most cases, the redness is due to an allergy, infection, eye fatigue or over usage of contact lenses. Some rare cases like glaucoma and uveitis (which are serious and require emergency treatment) can also involve red eyes as a symptom.

Some common environmental causes of bloodshot eyes are:

  • Airborne allergens (causing eye allergies)
  • Overexposure to sunlight
  • Extremely dry air (arid environment, aeroplane cabins and similar places
  • Airborne fumes (gasoline, solvents, etc.)
  • Smoke (second-hand cigarette smoke)
  • Dust
  • Chemical exposure (chlorine in swimming pools, etc.)
  • Air pollution

Some common eye problems which include red eyes as a symptom are:

  • Digital eye strain
  • Pink Eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Irritation due to contact lens
  • Eye allergies
  • Dry eyes syndrome

While mentioning the above, it also includes:

  • Uveitis
  • Eye infections
  • Complications of LASIK surgery
  • Acute eye
  • Corneal ulcer
  • Eye trauma or injury

Lifestyle factors such as smoking marijuana or tobacco and consuming alcohol can also be a reason behind red eyes.

Eye redness is also linked to strenuous office work. If your office work is taxing and it requires hours of sitting in front of the screen of a computer or laptop, you may experience red eyes more often.

How to get rid of red eyes

When it comes to treating red eyes, one thing should be certain that the illness is not serious. For example, some people confuse red eyes with dry eyes, which is a much serious eye disease where the symptoms are accompanied by a burning sensation, itchiness, pain and most importantly — dryness.

It happens when the surface of the eyes do not have enough tears, a lubricant that protects the eye from numerous infections and keeps it moist. While the disease is most common in old people, adults can also experience it.

If you have dry eyes, consult with your eye specialist. He will recommend a lubricant or eye drops for dry eyes. The treatment may involve a few other steps if the disorder is severe.

What is crucial is that you need to know the difference between both eye disorders.

When it comes to eye redness, you can avoid it by making a few changes to your lifestyle. However, if it’s caused by a serious eye disorder, it will not go away until you treat the disease.

Taking eye drops can make the redness go away if it is caused by a minor eye disorder like irritation, exhaustion or occasional redness.

Eye drops turn the eyes whiter by narrowing the veins. Although, it is not recommended to take any eye drops without the approval of your eye physician. As they make the veins tiny, using them habitually can harm your blood vessels.

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