Red & Bloodshot Eyes: Common Causes & Treatment

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Red Eyes/ Bloodshot eyes

Bloodshot eyes, often known as red eyes, signify various health conditions. While some of these problems are minor and don't need immediate medical attention, others are dangerous.

Your red eyes can be something to be worried about. However, most serious eye issues manifest as redness coupled with pain or alterations in vision.

In the sections below, we'll look at the many reasons for red eyes, how to treat them, and when to seek medical attention.

Causes of red eyes

Let's now examine the several reasons why you can get red eyes. We'll discuss each one, its causes, and any other symptoms you should be looking for.

Red Eyes can be caused by Allergies

Eye allergies can cause swelling and red eyes, harming the eyes. You can also feel other signs, such as

  • Itching
  • Burning sensation.
  • Heightened tearing

Other allergy symptoms that can cause red eyes, such as sneezing and a runny, itchy nose, may coexist with eye allergy symptoms. Dust mites, pollen, and other things are typical allergy triggers, including irritants like cigarette smoke or air pollution, mould, and pet dander.

Causes of Red Eyes

Red eyes can be caused by Dry eyes

Small glands located above the eyes produce tears. They function to lubricate and protect the eyes. When your eyes don't produce enough tears, you have dry eyes.

Studies have shown that dry eyes frequently occur, with prevalence rates ranging from 5 to 50%. Women, those over the age of 50, and people who wear contact lenses have a higher risk of developing the illness and red eyes.

If you have dry eyes, you can observe eye redness and pain. Other signs comprise:

  • a stinging, itchy, or burning sensation
  • a feeling as something is in your eyes
  • light sensitivity and
  • blurred vision (that comes and goes, especially when reading)

Conjunctivitis can be one reason for Red eyes

The membrane lining the inside of your eyelids and the white area of your eye, known as the conjunctiva, can become inflamed and cause conjunctivitis. Pink eye/red eyes is another name for this ailment. The pink or red tint of your eyes' whites results from conjunctival inflammation.

Conjunctivitis may also cause the following additional symptoms:

  • Itching
  • Burning sensation
  • Tearing becomes more frequent
  • When there is an obstruction in the eye and mucus or pus is discharged; this can cause crusting of the eyelids or eyelashes

There are numerous possible causes of conjunctivitis, such as:

  • Bacterial infections that can be brought on by Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, or Haemophilus influenzae
  • Viral infections, such as those brought on by Adenoviruses, Measles, or COVID-19
  • Allergies to things like pollen, moulds, and pet dander
  • Environmental irritants like smoke or chemical fumes

Viral or bacterial conjunctivitis spreads quickly and is highly contagious. It can therefore be quickly transferred from one person to another.

Blepharitis can cause Red Eyes

Inflammation of the eyelids is referred to as blepharitis. Your eyelids or eyes could look red and puffy as a result, and you can have what is also called bloodshot eyes.

Additional signs of blepharitis include the following:

  • increased tearing,
  • a burning or stinging sensation,
  • feeling like something is in your eye, causing your eyes to be red and painful,
  • itching,
  • crusty eyelids in the morning, and
  • sensitivity to light, are some of the symptoms

Blepharitis may potentially result in more severe red eye symptoms, especially if it is not treated. These may include eyesight blurriness, eyelash growth in the incorrect place, eyelash loss, eye pain, and redness.

If you have a lot of bacteria on your eyelids, blepharitis may develop. The illness may also worsen if the oil glands in your eyelids clog up. A mite infestation can occasionally bring on blepharitis.

Uveitis can be one reason for Red eyes

Inflammation, or uveitis, affects the uvea, the central region of your eye. The uvea is the region between the retina and the white of your eye.

Eye redness/ red eyes may be caused by uveitis-related inflammation. Additional signs to watch for are:

  • blurry vision
  • eye discomfort
  • floaters
  • sensitivity to light

Uveitis can be brought on by several factors, including:

  • certain forms of infections, such as syphilis, shingles, and toxoplasmosis
  • some cancers, such as lymphoma;
  • the herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1
  • autoimmune illnesses like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis

Uveitis must be treated as soon as possible. This is because if the illness is not controlled, it can lead to red eyes, which may cause vision loss.

Scleritis can be a reason for Red eyes

When the sclera, the white of your eye, becomes inflamed, it is known as scleritis. The white of your eye may turn red and puffy or bloodshot eyes when this happens. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Hazy vision
  • More sensitivity to light
  • Head, facial, or jaw pain
  • Increased crying
  • Tenderness or pain in the eyes
  • Lowered vision

Scleritis frequently occurs alongside an autoimmune disorder. Some instances are:

  • Sjögren's syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • An inflammatory bowel illness, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis

Additionally, scleritis may develop due to an eye infection or damage due to red eyes.

Subconjunctival haemorrhage can cause Red Eyes

Blood can occasionally seep from a broken blood artery in your bloodshot eye, covering the surface of your eye. A subconjunctival haemorrhage is what this is.

Although the disease may appear dangerous, it is frequently benign and resolves naturally in 1 to 2 weeks. Usually, the only symptom of red eyes is the redness of the affected eye, though occasionally, you may also feel a minor irritation in your eye.

However, consult a doctor if you have a subconjunctival haemorrhage, your vision deteriorates, or you have red eyes.

The following are some possible causes of subconjunctival bleeding and red eyes:

  • Excessively scratching your eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Eye injury

You can be more susceptible to this illness if you take blood thinners and have diabetes or high blood pressure.

Eyelid stye can cause Red Eyes

A stye is an inflammation-causing obstruction of the meibomian gland in the eye. Your upper or lower eyelids, outer or inside, may be affected.

The edge of your eyelid may turn red, bloated, and painful if you have a stye. Due to the clogged gland, the affected area may fill with meibum and eventually develop to the size of a pea.

Angle-closure glaucoma can be a reason for Red Eyes

Glaucoma is when your eye pressure rises due to your eye producing more fluid than usual. Your optic nerve may be harmed, possibly resulting in blindness.

The condition of glaucoma comes in various forms. One kind, known as angle-closure glaucoma, causes an abrupt rise in ocular pressure. This kind of glaucoma may also go by the name closed-angle or narrow-angle.

Angle-closure glaucoma symptoms include the abrupt onset of red eyes. Other signs to watch out for include the following:

  • Strong eye pain
  • Seeing rainbow rings or halos and having blurry vision
  • Reduced vision
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or vomiting

Angle-closure glaucoma develops when the iris covers the opening where ocular fluid exits the eye. Eye pressure quickly rises as a result of fluid beginning to accumulate in the eye. If you don't get treatment quickly for this type of glaucoma, you could lose your vision.

Corneal ulcers can cause Red eyes

Corneal ulcers are sores or ulcers that affect the cornea, the outside layer of the eye. A different name for this illness is keratitis.

Other signs of a corneal ulcer besides red eyes include:

  • Intense eye pain
  • Feeling that there is something in your eye,
  • Increased crying
  • Pus discharge
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Swelling of your eyelids

Numerous factors might lead to corneal ulcers:

  • Dry eyes
  • Sleeping in contact lenses
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses including herpes simplex and varicella-zoster viruses fungi Acanthamoeba- a type of parasite
  • Using well water to clean contacts
  • Swimming or showering with contact lenses or -scratching, cutting, or burning the cornea
  • Diseases that interfere with the capacity of the eyelid to close, such as Bell's palsy

If you experience corneal ulcer symptoms, you must get medical help immediately. This illness might permanently harm your vision and lead to red eyes if it is not treated.

Eye Injuries can cause Red eyes

Your eye may turn red, or you can have bloodshot eyes after injury, frequently due to irritation or bleeding. Following are additional signs of an eye injury that can cause red eyes:

  • Eye pain
  • Different-sized pupils
  • Swelling of the eye or the surrounding area
  • Difficulty moving your eye
  • Decreased vision

Several instances of typical causes of eye injury that may cause red eyes to include:

  • Foreign items that enter your eye physically harm
  • Receiving a blow or being in an accident
  • Chemical exposure
Reasons of Red Eyes

Contact lens wear can be a reason for Red eyes

Others who wear contact lenses have to touch their eyes and the region around them more frequently than people who don't. As a result, people are more likely to have eye redness or bloodshot eyes due to several circumstances. A few of these are:

  • Corneal scrapes or scratches
  • Allergies to eyes
  • Eye diseases
  • Corneal ulcers can develop if wearers sleep with their lenses on
  • Dry eyes
  • Neovascularization, which is the development of new blood vessels in the cornea
  • Giant papillary conjunctivitis is a form of conjunctivitis that causes lumps to appear under your eyelid
  • The inflammation-related syndrome is known as contact lens-induced acute red eye (CLARE), brought on by wearing contacts all night

Some signs of contact lens difficulties, in addition to red eyes, include:

  • Eye discomfort
  • Increasing tears
  • Hazy vision
  • Light sensitivity

Remove your contacts for a few hours if you wear contacts and experience any of the symptoms listed above. Call an eye doctor if your symptoms persist or get worse.

Additional causes of red eyes

In addition to the factors mentioned above, these other factors can also contribute to red eyes:

  • Using drugs or alcohol can cause red eyes
  • Photokeratitis - an eye irritation that can result from exposure to sunlight
  • Ocular rosacea is a skin disorder that can affect your eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead
  • Trichiasis, in which the eye is irritated by the eyelashes growing inward
  • Cellulitis - a skin inflammation caused by bacteria that can affect the eyelid or eye socket
  • An infection of the tissues inside your eye, known as endophthalmitis
  • Onchocerciasis, an illness brought on by a roundworm, can cause red eyes
  • The cancer of the eye, called retinoblastoma

Red Eye Care Tips

You can manage your symptoms at home if a less severe ailment brings on your eye redness, like allergies, conjunctivitis, or blepharitis. You can perform a variety of things, such as:

1. Apply a cold compress first
Several times a day, apply a cool compress over your closed eyes to aid with red eyes symptoms and swelling.

2. Use nonprescription (OTC) drugs.
Decongestants or over-the-counter antihistamines may help lessen eye redness. Additionally, sold without a prescription, drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen help reduce pain and swelling in your red eyes.

3. Consider using fake tears.
Artificial tears can be bought over the counter to soothe inflamed eyes and remove allergens, and putting them in the fridge can offer added comfort.

4. Keep irritants at bay.
Avoid exposure to environmental irritants like pollen, smoke, or chemical fumes while healing to prevent red eyes.

5. Wash your hands.
Always wash your hands after handling anything. If your hands aren't clean, refrain from touching your eyes or the area around them.

6. Avoid using contacts or cosmetics.
Try to delay using contacts or makeup until your symptoms have subsided.

7. Reduce your screen time.
Try to limit how much time you spend looking at screens because too much time in front of a computer, TV, or phone screen can lead to eyestrain and dry eyes.
Consult a doctor if your red eyes are accompanied by pain or changes in your vision. They will enquire about your symptoms, existing medical illnesses, and any issues that may have irritated your eye. They might also check your eye.
The doctor may recommend a course of treatment that lessens your red eyes symptoms based on your diagnosis. This probably includes items like:

  • Steroid pills or eyedrops for your reddened eyes
  • Antibacterial drugs, which might come in the form of eye drops, tablets, or medicine applied topically near the eye
  • Prescription eye drops for ailments like glaucoma, allergies, or dry eyes
  • A laser treatment (in the case of acute angle closure)

What complications can be caused by eye redness?

Most causes of eye redness won't have severe side effects.

However, if you have a condition that impairs your eyesight, it could make it difficult for you to do things like drive or cook. Having vision problems in these places increases the risk of accidents.

In some cases, untreated eye disorders can permanently harm the eye, which can cause vision loss. Eye injuries, angle-closure glaucoma, and eye infections are a few disorders.

How can red eyes be prevented?

By maintaining good hygiene and avoiding irritants that might make eyes red, the majority of occurrences of eye redness can be prevented.

To prevent red eyes, heed these recommendations:

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially if you encounter someone infected with an eye infection.
  • Every day, take off all eye makeup to prevent redness in your eyes.
  • Avoid using contact lenses when swimming or for longer than suggested.
  • Avoid putting on contact lenses at night to prevent redness in your eyes.
  • Consistently clean your contact lenses.
  • Avoid activities that can strain your eyes to cause redness.
  • Keep your distance from anything that might irritate your eyes. If exposure does happen, quickly rinse your eye thoroughly with water or eyewash if none is available.

When should you seek medical attention?

The majority of reasons for red eyes don't require immediate medical intervention.

Make an appointment to see a doctor if you have red eyes if:

  • your symptoms persist for more than a week
  • your vision changes
  • you become sensitive to light
  • your symptoms persist for more than a week
  • you take blood-thinning drugs such as heparin or warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)

Despite the fact that the majority of red eyes aren't severe, get emergency medical help if:

  • Your eye is red from an accident or trauma
  • Your vision is foggy, and you have a headache
  • Lights start to have white halos or rings around them
  • You become nauseous and vomit
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