Top 5 Causes of Red Eyes

By OmniOptics - October 23, 2012

Red Eye

Photo from anthonyliska.com.au

Having red eyes may be alarming for you, especially when they’re nasty, bloodshot eyes. Basically, eye redness develops when blood vessels in the eye are swollen or dilated. The condition is caused by several factors – some serious, others not so much. If you notice the white part of your eye change its color to pink or red, you might have one of these:

1. Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis, commonly known by most parents as pink eye, is an infection of the membrane that coats the surface of the eye (conjunctiva). Some forms of conjunctivitis, such as those caused by viruses and bacteria are highly contagious and are common in both children and adults. The symptoms include itching, stinging, burning, watering red eyes.

What to do: Wash your hands often and avoid rubbing or touching your eyes. Do not share towels, washcloths or pillows with family members. If you want immediate relief, use cool compresses on the outside of the closed eyelids. It is best to see the eye doctor for possible treatment.

2. Allergies

Allergies are one of the primary causes of red eyes. This usually occurs during spring and fall or when an allergen enters the eyes. Allergens can be anything irritating, ranging from fumes and cat hair to pollen and molds. Symptoms of eye allergy include glassy, swollen, puffy and itchy eyes.

What to do: Over closed eyelids, pat cold, wet compresses. Rinsing the eyes also prove helpful for a number of people. Over-the-counter oral antihistamines and eye drops can relieve the redness too. If the allergy continues, you may visit your eye doctor for a prescription.

Eye drops

Stock photo from inmagine.com

3. Eye Injury

Did sand or dust get in your eyes? Foreign objects that enter the eye cause irritation and redness, along with blurred vision and pain. Tears usually flush the foreign object out while dilated blood vessels heal the possible injury caused by the object. However, if you get hit in the eye, there could also be unseen but serious damage. See your eye doctor right away.

What to do: For foreign objects, saline eye drops are best. For injury, cold compresses may help. If you’re eye doctor isn’t available, go to an emergency room for immediate check up.

4. Eye Strain

Extended computer use, reading for long periods, exposure to bright light or glare, watching television and long drives are some causes of eye strain. A bad viewing angle, low light levels, fatigue, stress, less sleeping hours and alcohol use are additional factors that contribute to the condition.

What to do: There are several exercises that can reduce eye strain. Palming, blinking, visual scanning and eye aerobics are some examples. One eye aerobic exercise is rolling the eyes ten times to the left, then another ten times to the right.

5. Broken Blood Vessel

Tiny blood vessels in the eye sometimes break because of heavy lifting, sneezing, rubbing, constipation or taking blood thinning medication. The outcome: alarming red eyes.  Despite its scary appearance, this is usually harmless and not considered an emergency.

What to do: Stop all straining activities and stop taking blood thinners. To be on the safe side, go to your eye doctor for check up within a day or two after the symptoms appear.


About the author: Based in San Diego, California, Melissa Page is a passionate writer who blogs about health, parenting and travel. She currently works with ICan, a company that gives smart and affordable insurance options for the prevention of eye disorders and restoration of your health.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012 at 9:00 am and is filed under Health & Information. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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