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What Causes Bloodshot Eyes? - Bard Optical

What Causes Bloodshot Eyes?

Bloodshot eyes

Bloodshot eyes are the result of small blood vessels present on the surface of the eye becoming enlarged with blood. This is most commonly due to a lack of oxygen being supplied to the cornea.

Most of us have probably experienced bloodshot eyes at some point in our life, and usually, they are not causing for concern unless coupled with eye pain or abnormal swelling.

What causes this sensation to overcome our eyes? And how best can we quell the temporary condition to get our eyes looking healthy again?

Here are a few common causes of bloodshot eyes:


Dry air. Dry and arid climates, as well as controlled spaces like an office building, can dry out your eyes.

Sunlight overexposure. It may not seem like it, but your eyes can get sunburnt just the same as your skin. Overexposure of UV rays on your eyes can burn them and cause them to become bloodshot.

Chemical exposure. Many of us have probably experienced bloodshot eyes after a day at the pool. Exposure to chlorine or similar chemicals can leave your eyes irritated and bloodshot.

Smoke. Whether it’s campfire smoke or cigarette smoke, any kind of smoke can starve your eyes of moisture and oxygen while irritating them in the process, leaving them itchy and bloodshot.

Airborne Allergens. Airborne pollens and allergens can also irritate your eyes and dry them out. If you are commonly affected by eye allergies, you might find yourself having bloodshot eyes on a day with high pollen index.

Sustained electronic device use. Sustained exposure to the blue light given off from electronic devices can dry out your eyes, and cause them to become strained, fatigued, and bloodshot.

Lack of sleep. Have you ever woken up from a night of restless sleep and stared at your own red eyes in the mirror? Without the proper amount of rest that your eyes need to recover from the fatigue of the previous day they can become strained and bloodshot.

Then there are the more serious conditions that can cause bloodshot eyes. These include:

  • Recent eye surgery
  • Eye infection
  • Blunt trauma to the eye
  • Uveitis
  • Glaucoma

Curing Bloodshot Eyes

Because of the many different causes of bloodshot eyes, it is difficult to pinpoint a catch-all remedy.

In most cases, a doctor-approved moisturizing eye drop is all it takes to do the trick. However, before using any eye drops you should consult your eye doctor about the best options for your eyes.

Additionally, if you begin experiencing pain, swelling, or drainage with your red eyes, consult your doctor immediately as this could be the symptoms of a larger issue.

There are a variety of sources in our daily lives that can contribute to our bloodshot eyes, but the one thing that stays constant is our ability to recognize the situations that may be irritating our eyes and doing our best to avoid them.

Is that smoke from the campfire starting to make your eyes water? Move back a couple more feet. Is the sun especially bright today? Don’t forget those sunglasses before you head out.

And of course, if you are concerned about your bloodshot eyes, or think that something more pressing may be affecting your eyesight, talk to your doctor today!

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