No one likes to have bloodshot eyes. Apart from looking pretty unsightly, red eyes can in some cases mask a more acute or chronic condition.
Causes of Red Eyes?
When the blood vessels in the white part of the eye, or sclera, become irritated and swollen, this causes the redness in and around your eye.
Some of the more harmless causes of red eyes include,
infections, allergies, fatigue, excess alcohol, computer use and too much television.
Very dry air can also irritate your eyes, creating the redness and inflammation.
Our eyes are constantly filtering a number of different light sources, not too mention a bombardment of different stimulus every day.
These light sources actually cause free radical damage, and hence antioxidant protection is crucial to the health our eyes over time.
Another commonly overlooked cause of red, bloodshot eyes is many years of sun damage caused by long term sun exposure without the protection of sunglasses.
Do bloodshot eyes cause dry eye?
With dry eyes, the redness occurs in the blood vessels and eyelids due to inflammation.
Inflammation is your body’s defence mechanism against infections, bacteria and other perceived threats.
Think of inflammation as simply increased blood flow to any part of your body in an attempt to repair damage and promote healing. The same thing occurs with your eyes. An irritation can trigger the inflammation cycle.
As the eye dries out due to poor tear film quality, (the protective fluid on the eye surface) inflammation occurs, attempting to repair the perceived damage to the eye tissue. Blocked meibomian glands, often called blepharitis, also causes inflammation of the eyelids.
Red and inflamed eyes can be symptomatic of dry eye as being the underlying cause if the inflammation does not gradually resolve after a few days or perhaps weeks.
This picture is somewhat difficult to look at but this is a typical bloodshot eye and common with dry eye syndrome. Eye drops can be used temporarily to alleviate the redness and discomfort caused.
Specific types of drops for ‘red eye relief’ should only be used for one or two days in order to relieve acute problems.
Any longer than this and you can experience the ‘rebound effect’ where by, as you try to stop the medication, the redness and inflammation returns and becomes worse than it was when you started.
In other words, the reverse of the desired result!
Pharmacists and doctors should alert you to this issue but some drops of this nature are sold over the counter, so be aware before purchasing.
Bloodshot and irritated eyes can be just a passing nuisance but may also be a sign of something more serious.
If your eyes remain red and sore for more than a few days then you will need to assess where the trigger is coming from, be it allergies (food or airborne) lack of sleep, dehydration, strain through computer use and so on.
The causes of red, bloodshot eyes can be varied. Often, short term conditions like lack of sleep and allergies will resolve on their own.
Chronic, long term causes such as sun damage, dry eyes, blepharitis need specialist care and attention.
An eye check up at your local Optometrist or doctor is recommended in these instances.