causes and treatment for red, bloodshot eyes
Bloodshot eyes is an extremely common issue, and often lasts only for a few hours until you're able to take out your contacts, sleep, or properly clean your eyes. However, these are all relatively harmless reasons for bloodshot eyes. There are actually a myriad of possible causes, some being more serious. If your red eyes persist for longer than a day or two, or there is extreme or loss of vision, you should see a doctor immediately.
Conjunctivitis, colloquially known as pink eye, is an extremely common cause of red eyes. This results from the swelling of the eyelids and the conjunctiva, which is a transparent liquid film that covers the eyeball. Though clear, the conjunctiva does contain blood vessels which can dilate if irritated and lead to bloodshot eyes. Other causes of pink eye include either bacterial or viral infections, seasonal allergies, or an allergic reaction to dust or animals.
lack of Tears
Tears aren't just a way to express sadness or happiness- the tears that our eyes constantly produce keep our eyes lubricated and healthy. If our eyes dry out from lack of tears, they can become irritated and inflamed, resulting in red eyes. To fix any discomfort from this, such as an itchy or burning sensation, you may be prescribed eye drops.
If you find yourself staring for extended periods of time at your electronic screen (think your smartphone or tablet), you may be at the risk to develop computer vision syndrome. Not only does the strain from screens affect our eyes, but we actually blink less when we stare at them, which can lead to similar problems as dry eye syndrome and cause your eyes to become bloodshot. If you have to work with technological devices for long periods of time, remember the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
If your bloodshot eyes are paired with pain, increased sensitivity to light, or reduced vision, it may be an indication of a more serious disease such as ocular herpes, a corneal ulcer, uveitis, or glaucoma. If these illnesses go untreated they can be extremely dangerous and cause serious vision issues, so you should contact a medical professional.
Smoking & Drinking
Alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis are all known eye irritants that may cause bloodshot eyes. When you drink alcohol, the amount of oxygen in our red blood cells is lowered, which can lead to blood clots in our eyes, while tobacco dries out the eyes and can heighten your risk of contracting ocular diseases like cataracts. Cannabis, however, dilates our ocular blood vessels.
Swimming or losing sleep
If you swim often, wearing goggles could significantly cut down on irritants that are introduced to your eyes and lessen your likelihood of getting bloodshot eyes. Also, you should never wear contacts in the water, as you run the risk of getting severe infections. Lastly, getting some extra sleep may prevent bloodshot eyes as it will refresh and give them time to rest.