Our eyes are important but fragile organs that allow us to see the world around us. As sight is the strongest sense for most people, it is of critical importance that we take care of our eyes and investigate any changes in eyesight, and the appearance of the eyes themselves. The occurrence of red eyes, for example, may result from many causes, some of which are serious, and others that are not. If you have red eyes, you’ll want to take the time to find the cause of them, and, if necessary, get appropriate medical treatment as soon as possible.
What Causes Red Eyes?
While there are several different causes for red eyes, the actual redness is a direct result of the expansion of blood vessels. If you look closely at the white of a healthy eye, you will see small red lines, which are blood vessels, all over it. When these blood vessels become inflamed, they expand to take up more space, which in turn gives the eyes a red appearance. The actual dilation of blood vessels in the eyes itself can come from many conditions, which may be determined by other symptoms, such as itchiness or soreness, etc.
As mentioned earlier, some of the conditions that lead to red eyes are serious and require diagnosis and medical attention to prevent severe, permanent damage to eyes and vision, or other aspects of health. Other conditions are less severe, but may still benefit from medical attention. That being said, there are also those conditions that are simple enough that they can be handled at home with no medical intervention. Continue for some of the most common causes of red eyes, so you can assess the situation. However, if you are unsure, it’s best to consult a medical professional.
Allergies can have several effects on the body, including the eyes. Essentially, an allergic reaction is the activation of the immune system to a threat that is harmless. This causes symptoms such as redness and inflammation, effects that help control the spread of illness or infection… except there’s no infection in the case of allergies. Generally, pollen, pet dander, and dust work as allergens for those who have allergies. Such allergens can cause the eyes to become itchy, watery, and irritated, symptoms that will only grow worse if one rubs at their eyes in response to irritation.
Generally, if the allergen is removed, and the area is no longer overstimulated by scratching or rubbing, the redness will recede. This, however, can be difficult if the area is filled with allergens, such as a field of flowers or a dusty room. Cool water and compresses can speed up the recovery time, to a degree. Otherwise, there are eyedrops specifically designed to clear up allergens, along with antihistamine medications. That said, because of over the counter remedies for eye and sinus allergies, allergies are not usually a serious problem for most people, and medical attention is often not needed.
7. Pink Eye
Medically known as conjunctivitis, pink eye has a variety of causes, all of which can cause the eye to become red. It is an infection, typically caused by bacteria or viruses, but it may also result from allergens as well. Other symptoms include itchiness, watering, and an excess of eye crust and mucus, so much so that one may have difficulty opening their eyes in the morning after sleep. It is not a serious condition, but if it is left untreated and does not resolve on its own, it could create significant, vision-altering complications due to scarring of the eyes.
While generally only one eye is affected initially, it’s easy to spread to the other eye, or to other people via bacteria on pillows, towels, hands, and so on. Fortunately, only bacterial and viral pink eye is contagious; pink eye caused by allergies is typically harmless to other people. Because pink eye can come from multiple sources, it is a good idea to see a doctor to determine the best form of treatment. Generally, some types of pink eye will clear up on their own or with home remedies, but others will require medication, such as antibacterial eye drops.
There are several good reasons as it is not to overdo it when it comes to a night of drinking. Aside from the hangover you may wake up with the following morning, you may end up with eye redness in the course of the drinking itself. This is because the alcohol causes vasodilation, meaning that it makes the blood vessels in the eyes relax, and therefore, expand. Over time, however, frequent drinking will lead past vasodilation and cause vasoconstriction instead, shrinking the blood vessels. This effect can actually become permanent, leading to a condition known as spider veins.
Aside from the harmful effects of alcohol on the rest of the body, this particular cause of eye redness is not much to worry about; after all, it is primarily caused by excessive drinking. However, consider drinking less, and less often, and this likely will be less of a problem. Furthermore, you’ll be healthier overall, because you’ll be putting less strain on the kidneys and liver. When it comes to getting quick relief at the moment, consider over the counter eye drops, as these can help to clear up the redness. Oh, and drink more water; you’re going to need it.Related: 11 Liver Damage Signs You Can’t Ignore
This one probably comes as no surprise, as most of us have been here before. A lack of sleep can result in red eyes. In this case, the dilation of blood vessels comes as a result of oxygen. Specifically, the blood vessels expand in an attempt to get more oxygen to the eyes, because being sleep deprived limits the amount of oxygen that makes it to the eyes. Another thing that may redden the eyes is the lack of moisture- this is common among those who are sleep deprived, because the eyes are open longer, preventing remedial lubrication via shut-eye.
Fortunately, the solution, in this case, is simple. Getting more sleep will reduce the occurrence of red eyes. In the interim, one may rely on artificial tears as a moisturizing agent, or cold compresses. Sometimes, remedying a lack of sleep is as simple as changing bedtime habits (less light and electronic distractions in the hours winding down to bed, no eating heavy meals right before sleep). In other cases, it may be a result of other factors, such as depression, anxiety, or other disorders. If changing bedtime routines and other lifestyle factors don’t bring restful sleep, talk to your doctor.
As far as red-eye problems go, styes are one of those conditions that are actually fairly common, but aren’t talked about terribly often. This is because, in most cases, styes are not a severe condition, comparatively speaking. A stye is the result of a gland blockage near the eye; because of an infection due to bacteria, it becomes a big, red bump, usually on some part of the eyelid. They resemble pimples and may appear in groups. Aside from the bump itself, other symptoms of a stye include redness and swelling, which may cause a fair amount of discomfort.
As mentioned, styes are common, but not severe; for example, they do not affect the vision. Perhaps the worst thing about a stye is how unsightly it looks. It may prove tempting to try and pop it, or otherwise remove it. However, messing with the stye can make it even more uncomfortable. Furthermore, in doing so, one risks the possibility of exacerbating the infection. Since styes are basically harmless, this is simply a problem to wait out; however, if frequent styes become a problem, an antibiotic ointment may help; talk to your doctor for details regarding such treatment.
Do you wear contacts? While a nice alternative to glasses, they can certainly cause their share of eye woes. Because they cover the eyes, they may prevent moisture and oxygen from reaching the surface of the eye. Both of these can result in red eyes in response. This is much more likely to occur in situations of prolonged contact lens wearing, especially if you decide to wear them overnight. Failure to clean and disinfect contact lenses regularly can result in infections, and sometimes corneal ulcers, though generally, this is the worst thing that could happen.
Generally, practicing good hygiene can prevent these issues. Likewise, understanding the capabilities and limitations of your choice in contact lenses and behaving accordingly can ensure your eyes remain healthy. This means washing and disinfecting them according to their directions, and taking them out and putting them away before going to bed. This will give your eyes a chance to breathe and rehydrate. In the case of short-term relief, you may find solace in the form of moisturizing eye drops; some of these brands also double as contact lens solution, so they can be used in both eyes and contact cases.
Sometimes the redness that comes is not merely a result of dilated blood vessels. This is precisely the case when it comes to subconjunctival hemorrhages. It is the breaking of a blood vessel in the eye. Blood leaks from the burst vessel and gets trapped in the white of the eye, forming a red patch. Much like a stye, it can be unsightly to look at; fortunately, also like a stye, it is rarely a serious injury; if you have one, your first indication will likely be seeing it in the mirror, or being informed by someone else, not pain.
Generally, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is the result of overexertion; if you perform strenuous activities, for example, you may induce one. Of course, it goes without saying that eye trauma can cause a subconjunctival hemorrhage as well; however, whatever the case, it is not likely to affect your vision (thought eye trauma certainly might). As such, a subconjunctival hemorrhage, though it may look and sound serious, is really not that big of a deal. Consider seeing a doctor if trauma is the cause, to check for underlying damage. Otherwise, wait it out. The body will clear it in a few weeks.
When you hear about vision problems, chances are glaucoma is the topic of discussion. However, glaucoma is not a single entity. It refers to some diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve. Given that the optic nerve is what allows the eye and the brain to communicate, this damage can result in vision loss. Often, glaucoma has its roots in fluid buildup. This excess fluid applies too much pressure to the eye, leading to damage. Eye redness is one potential indicator of glaucoma, though other symptoms that must be considered include blurring of vision and eye pain.
In general, regular eye exams are a good idea. However, if you have these symptoms, or light sources seem to have halos around them, it’s critical that you see a doctor for an eye exam. While eye redness may be a common problem with less serious causes, glaucoma tends to develop slowly over time, and if not managed early on, treatment options, as well as vision diminish significantly. Also, consider co-occurring symptoms such as headaches and nausea; in these cases, seek medical attention immediately. Medication can help slow down glaucoma’s progression, preserving the patient’s vision for as long as possible.Related: 10 Devious Effects of High Blood Sugar
While red eyes can result from several conditions, some of them are far more serious than others. Take care to avoid irritating the eye further, and make use of eyedrops and cold compresses– these will provide some relief, and hopefully cause any redness and swelling to subside. It’s in your best interest to consider other symptoms along with your red eyes to rule out potential causes. If all else fails, then you should definitely speak to a doctor- especially if there is pain involved, as pain is a universal sign that something is seriously wrong.