We’ve all been there. You look in the mirror and red, irritated eyes look back. If you’ve got red eyes, you may be concerned, left wondering what caused them.
The caring providers at Benjamin Optical with offices in Harlem, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Inwood understand. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on common causes of red eye and what you can do to treat it.
Red, bloodshot eyes are typically called “red eye.” Eyes turn red and bloodshot when the blood vessels on the surface of the eye dilate. As the blood vessels expand, they make the whites of the eye look pink or red.
Even though many people suffer from red eye occasionally, chronic red eye isn’t normal and should be evaluated by an eye doctor. However, many cases don’t require medical intervention and can be treated at home.
Below are five common causes and remedies for red eyes.
1. Lack of sleep
We all know sleep is important. When you don’t get enough sleep, your eyes show it. Your eyes need to close for long periods to ensure proper fluid circulation. When you keep them open too long, your eyes get red, puffy, and dry.
To avoid red eye due to lack of sleep, practice good sleep hygiene. You’ll also benefit from many other benefits!
Even if you don’t feel allergies in your nose, an allergic reaction can lead to red “allergy eye”. Pollen, specific foods, chemicals, and much more can trigger red eye and the itchy, burning sensation that often accompanies allergy eye.
Over-the-counter allergy medication and eye drops can help alleviate red eye. Your doctor may have additional recommendations.
3. Dry eye syndrome
When your tears don’t lubricate your eyes correctly, they get dry. Dry eyes become red and irritated. This can happen when the eyes don’t make enough tears or the eyes produce low-quality tears.
To soothe dry eyes, try using over-the-counter eye drops designed to lubricate them. If your dry eye persists, the experienced optometrists at Benjamin Optical can evaluate your eyes and make recommendations.
4. Computer vision syndrome
We spend more time than ever staring at computer screens. And all of that screen time can lead to eye strain, commonly called “computer vision syndrome.” Staring at other screens, such as TVs, phones, and tablets can cause red eye as well.
red eye caused by computer vision syndrome results from a lack of moisture to the eyes. When you blink, your tears replenish moisture, but when staring at a computer or looking at a screen, people blink 66% less frequently.
To prevent red eye caused by computer vision syndrome, try blinking more often when using a computer or looking at a screen. Using over-the-counter artificial tears can help, too.
Alcohol is a vasodilator. This means it causes the blood vessels on the surface of the eye to dilate, making the whites of eyes look red.
Drinking alcohol also dehydrates you, which can make the eyes appear red. Some people react strongly to even small amounts of alcohol.
To avoid red eye caused by alcohol, drink in moderation. Also, be sure to hydrate well. Stay hydrated all day, and try drinking a glass of water between alcoholic beverages.
When to seek professional care
Red eyes can result from causes other than those listed above, including infection, eye injury, smoking or exposure to smoke, having a cold or the flu, contacts lenses, and more. Seek professional help if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Your eyes are encrusted with or seeping yellow, brown, or green mucus
- You have pain or tenderness in or around the eyes
- You experience extreme or unusual sensitivity to light
- You or your child has been exposed to conjunctivitis, or “pink eye,” at work or school
- You’ve tried at-home remedies, and after a week you still have redness and discomfort
Red or bloodshot eyes can be a symptom of more complicated health issues. It’s safest to see an eye doctor for a professional evaluation, even if it turns out to be harmless, rather than regret not seeking treatment.
If you’re concerned about red eyes, call to schedule a consultation with one of the providers at your nearest Benjamin Optical location today, or book one online.