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Why Are My Eyes Red? The Causes of Red Eyes

Gina Walters
Published

LAST UPDATED:

why-are-my-eyes-red

Your eyes become red or bloodshot when tiny blood vessels on the eye’s surface swell and get clogged with blood.

The condition usually arises due to an eye injury or infection.

Generally, red eyes aren’t a concern and can be treated with the help of home remedies. 

However, the presence of eye pain, watering, dryness, or blurred vision, alongside redness, may suggest a significant medical issue.

In this case, the condition needs immediate medical attention.

This article will look into the answer to the common question: Why are my eyes red?

Why are my eyes red

Usually, dilated or enlarged blood vessels cause redness in the eyes. 

This produces a reddish or bloodshot appearance on the eye’s surface.

Several factors can lead to red eyes

The most common causes include Conjunctivitis, dry eye, Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma, corneal ulcers, and Subconjunctival Hemorrhage.

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis, another name for Pink Eye, can result in red eyes. 

Pink Eye is characterized by the inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the transparent, protective membrane covering the front part of the eye. 

The condition can be brought on by allergies, irritants, and viral or bacterial eye infections, resulting in redness, irritation, and discharge. 

When the conjunctiva becomes infected, the blood vessels become irritated and swell. 

As a result of the inflammation, the white part of the eyes appears pink or red.

Suggestion:
Immediately consult an eye expert if you have any underlying medical issue that can lead to red eyes.

Dry eye

Keratitis
Closeup of a dry eye

Dry eyes are one of the most prevalent causes of red eyes. 

Dry eye syndrome occurs when the tear ducts cannot generate enough tears to moisten and nourish the eyes. 

The condition can be brought on by prolonged screen time, certain medications, and health issues.

The eye’s surface may become red, irritated, and inflamed due to chronic dry eyes.

Several factors can lead to dry eyes. Read our article: Common Dry Eye Causes and Effects to explore the causes of dry eye.

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma also sometimes can lead to red eyes.

It occurs when the pressure inside the eyes rises, causing damage to the optic nerve.

As a result, people may get headaches, impaired vision, eye redness, or discomfort.

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  • Corneal ulcers

    An open sore on the cornea caused by a bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic infection is known as a corneal ulcer

    Also, corneal damage due to contact lens usage, scratches, and dry eye can lead to corneal ulcers. 

    Due to this, neighboring blood vessels swell and expand. 

    In response, the cells rush in to fight against infection, leading to redness in the eyes.

    Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

    The conjunctiva is tightly packed with blood vessels and capillaries. 

    If these vessels rupture, blood can flow into the space between the conjunctiva and the white part of the eye. 

    When this happens, a small quantity of blood collects under the conjunctiva.

    This slight buildup of blood is known as a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage or bleeding eye. 

    Minor bleeding underneath the outer membrane of the eye causes bright red spots to appear on the white portion of the eye.

    A slight eye injury or trauma might cause a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage. 

    A bleeding eye might be frightening, but it is rarely painful or causes permanent damage to the eye.

    Apart from these common factors, other medical conditions, such as Keratitis, Blepharitis, Cellulitis, eye lymphoma, and Uveitis, can also cause your eyes to become red.

    Warning:
    Improper use of contact lenses may also cause scratches in the cornea that further can lead to red eyes.

    Treating red eye

    Treatment of red eyes depends upon the underlying cause. 

    In most cases, red eyes resolve without needing any medical aid. 

    If any medical issue is leading to red eyes, the patient should immediately consult a certified doctor for proper treatment.

    Treating the underlying condition usually helps in overcoming red eyes.

    However, the most commonly employed methods for treating red eye include:

    • Cold compresses
    • Artificial tears
    • Prescription and over-the-counter eye drops
    • Adequate rest
    • Gently rubbing eyelids

    Conclusion

    Why are my eyes red? This is the most common question asked by many people facing the issue.

    Red or bloodshot eyes occur due to the blocked blood vessels on the eye’s surface.

    This, in turn, can lead to swelling and redness in the eyes.

    The condition can be brought on by eye injuries or medical conditions, such as Conjunctivitis, dry eyes, corneal ulcers, and many more.

    Usually, there is nothing to be worried about with red eyes as, most of the time, they can be treated at home.

    However, when your red eye is the result of any severe medical condition, immediate medical attention is required to prevent vision
    loss.

    Hence, it is always advisable to seek the advice of a certified medical expert if your red eye doesn’t improve and turns severe. 

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    What causes a red eye?

    A red eye could be the result of an eye infection or injury.
    Medical conditions that can lead to red eye include Conjunctivitis, dry eye, Keratitis, Glaucoma, and Blepharitis

    Can lack of sleep cause red eyes?

    Yes, sleep deprivation can lead to red or bloodshot eyes. 
    After a sleepless night, the eyes may not produce tears in sufficient quantity, making them more prone to infections. 
    This, in turn, can lead to red eyes.

    How to treat red eyes?

    Cold compresses, avoiding irritants, artificial tears, and eye drops can help in overcoming red eyes.

    When does the red eye go away?

    Red eyes caused by medical conditions, such as Conjunctivitis and dry eyes, often tend to get better in 1 or 2 weeks.

    Are red eyes a serious issue?

    Usually, a red eye isn’t a matter of concern. 
    The condition gets better in a few days without needing any medical aid.
    However, several medical conditions, such as Conjunctivitis or Keratitis, can lead to serious issues that need immediate medical attention.

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