A bloodshot eye is a common condition that occurs when the blood vessels in the surface of your eyes rupture. This gives the whites of your eye a pink or reddish colour. Also, it can be known as “red-eye.”
Red-eye can occur in one or both eyes, and it can be associated with several symptoms, including:
- Itchy eyes
- Watery eyes
- High sensitivity to bright light
- Blurry vision(Inability to see clearly)
In some cases, bloodshot eyes may have no symptoms other than redness. However, red or bloodshot eyes are prevalent and have many causes. Therefore, red-eye usually is a symptom of other eye conditions that can range from benign to very serious.
Causes of bloodshot eyes
Several factors can cause eye bloodshot :
- A poked or scratched eyeball.
- Being awake all night.
- Spending too long looking at a TV or mobile phone or reading a book.
- Reading in poor light.
- Drinking too much alcohol.
Red eyes occur when the blood vessels on the surface of the eye expand.
Environmental causes of eye bloodshot include:
- Airborne allergens (causing eye allergies)
- Air pollution
- Smoke (fire-related, second-hand cigarette smoke, etc.)
- Dry air (arid climates, aeroplane cabins, office buildings, etc.)
- Airborne fumes (petrol, solvents, etc.)
- Chemical exposure (chlorine in swimming pools, etc.)
- Overexposure to sunlight (without UV-blocking sunglasses)
Common eye conditions that cause red eyes include:
- Dry eyes
- Eye allergies
- Contact lens wear
- Digital eye strain
People with allergies often experience sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and burning sensations in their eyes. All of these are things that can easily irritate the eyes and may cause bloodshot eyes.
Irritants like pollen, dust, perfume, smoke, and mould are usually responsible for aggravating our eyes and causing them to become bloodshot.
Another common cause of bloodshot eyes is dryness. When eyes are deprived of natural moisture (moisture from the air and moisture from the body’s hydration), eyes tend to tear up. This is because they lack a lubricant that our eyes need to see clearly.
Blood vessels and membranes in the eyes can stretch apart, resulting in mild or intense eye pain, redness, corneal ulcers, and in extreme cases, even loss of vision.
Eye infections result in the inflammation of the eyelash follicles and the membrane that protects the eye’s surface, causing a sore bloodshot eye.
When an eye is infected, additional fluids are produced to protect the eye from foreign substances, such as dust. If you have a bloodshot eye on one side only, it’s more likely to be from infection than from an allergy. The following are examples of common eye infections:
- Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
An internal infection affects your eye’s outer protective layer with conjunctivitis, causing the eyes to become inflamed. Your body then produces extra mucus to protect the eye’s film from external substances, such as bacteria, dust, mould, pollen and viruses.
In this condition, your eyelids and eyelashes become inflamed due to poor eyelid and lash hygiene. The oil builds up in your glands and blocks your eyelid glands, causing your lids and lashes to become infested with bacteria. With the eyelid glands of your eyes blocked, you may experience a burning sensation in your eyes, itching, swollen eyelids, and a bloodshot eyeball.
In some cases, bloodshot eyes may need immediate care. Visit one of our optometrists for an eye examination.
Complications from surgery
If you have bloodshot eyes weeks after cataract surgery or laser eye surgery, that’s an indication that there may be complications from the surgery that needs to be sorted out. Make an appointment with an optometrist as soon as possible.
Bloodshot eyes treatment:
Eye drops are the most common method of treatment when it comes to red, bloodshot eyes. However, do not take matters into your own hands. Visit an optometrist and let them determine which type of eye drop is most suitable. Often, bloodshot eyes are caused by lack of sleep, and the only proper treatment is to have a good night’s rest.
You may want to use lubricating drops to keep your eyes hydrated so your eyes don’t get bloodshot as often.
How To Prevent Bloodshot
Of course, there is no better way to treat bloodshot eyes than by avoiding them in the first place. Here are some preventative measures that can protect your eye(s) from developing redness:
- Wash your hands with antibacterial soap or sanitiser before touching your eyes
- Make sure to remove all eye makeup to prevent the clogging of your lid and lash glands.
- Avoid wearing contact lenses for longer than the recommended time.
- Store your contact lenses in a clean case and clean your contacts thoroughly with contact lens solution before and after each use
- Wherever possible, avoid dust, mould, and other allergens.