Have you had itchy, watery eyes lately? Or, do they come about at certain times of the year?
You may have red eyes.
Red eyes occur when the part of your eye that’s usually mostly white turns red or pink. That’s because the tiny blood vessels within your eye have become inflamed or dilated.
In addition to the color of the eye changing, your eyes may also itch, burn, or produce tears.
The simple solution to irritated red eyes is to find out what the cause is, and then avoid that trigger.
How Do You Get Red Eyes?
Red eyes have more than a dozen potential causes. Some of the more common causes include:
- Swimming. Specifically, wear goggles to protect your eyes while swimming in a chlorinated swimming pool.
- Allergies. Irritants both indoors and outdoors can cause unwanted reactions. Indoors, you contend with pet dander, dust, perfume, smoke, and mold, among other things. Outdoors, pollen from grass or trees can cause red eyes. Additional allergic reactions can include sneezing and a stuffy nose.
- Pink eye. Conjunctivitis is the most common eye disease. It is contagious and common among children. However, not all forms of red eyes are pink eye.
- Broken blood vessels. When the blood vessels burst beneath the surface your eye, they trap the blood inside your eye, giving your eye a red appearance. Even though it looks nasty, it usually doesn’t hurt. Your blood vessels may break from an intense sneeze, heavy lifting, or rubbing your eye too hard.
- Dry eye. If tears evaporate too quickly or can’t be made at all, your eyes may turn red from becoming dry. They may also feel gritty or like they burn. Dry eye can cause pain, ulcers on the cornea, and maybe even vision loss.
- Glaucoma. Glaucoma happens when fluid builds up and puts pressure on the front part of your eye, damaging your optic nerve. Even though it’s painless, glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness.
How Can I Treat Red Eyes?
Red eyes usually can be treated with some basic methods.
- Use eye drops to wash and moisten the affected eyes, but not so much that the eyes become dependent on them.
- If you have seasonal allergies, use an antihistamine. If you’ve previously been diagnosed with red eyes, use antihistamine drops with a steroid.
- Soothe your eyes by closing them and placing a cool compress or washcloth over them.
- Protect against triggers by wearing goggles, or avoid triggers altogether.
- Wash your hands often, and remember to use clean bedding and towels every day.
If you experience more serious symptoms of a red eye, such as pain, sensitivity to light, a sudden change in vision, nausea or vomiting, pink eye, or swelling in the eye, please contact your eye doctor.
You should also see your eye doctor if symptoms of red-eye last for more than a week.