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What Causes Red Eyes? Common Causes and Treatments

Jun 1, 2023 | Eye Health Info

Almost everyone experiences red eyes at some point in their lives. Symptoms include redness of the sclera (the white part of the eye) and other symptoms like itching, burning, and watery eyes. Most people associate red eyes with lack of sleep or excessive smoking, but the condition can have several different causes. In this blog, we’ll share the causes of red eyes and the treatments available to help you get relief fast. 

Common causes of red eyes 

While red eyes can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, they are often nothing to worry about. In fact, red eyes are very common and can be caused by a variety of factors, including: 

One of the most common causes of red eyes is allergies. If you’re sneezing, your nose is running, and your eyes are itchy, you may be suffering from allergies. Pollen, pet dander, and dust mites are all common allergens that can cause redness and discomfort in the eyes. 

Eye infections
Another common cause of red eyes is eye infections. Bacterial or viral infections, such as pink eye (conjunctivitis), can lead to redness, swelling, and discharge in the eyes. If you notice any of these symptoms, then it’s time to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.  

Dry eyes
A lack of tears or poor-quality tears can lead to dry eyes, which can cause redness and irritation. 

Eye strain
Spending a lot of time staring at screens can lead to eye strain, which can cause redness and fatigue. Taking frequent breaks and using the 20-20-20 rule (looking away from your screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds at a time) can help reduce eye strain. 

Contact lenses
Lastly, wearing contact lenses for an extended period can lead to redness and irritation in the eyes. It’s important to properly clean and store your contact lenses and to use appropriate contact lens solutions to prevent infections. 

Other conditions
In some cases, red eyes can be a symptom of a more serious condition such as glaucoma or uveitis. If you experience severe pain, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light, you should seek medical attention immediately. 

Treatment for red eyes 

If you’re dealing with red eyes, the good news is there are several treatments that can help you find relief! Here are some common treatments for red eyes: 

Eye drops
Over-the-counter eye drops can help soothe red and irritated eyes. These drops lubricate your eyes and reduce inflammation, making them a great option for anyone with dry or irritated eyes. 

Warm compresses
Applying a warm compress to your eyes can help reduce inflammation and increase blood flow, which can help soothe redness. Simply soak a clean washcloth in warm water, and then place it over your closed eyes for several minutes. 

Prescription medication
If your red eyes are caused by an infection or other underlying condition, your doctor may prescribe medication to help treat the problem. For example, if your eyes are infected with bacteria, they may prescribe antibiotic eye drops. 

Rest and relaxation
Sometimes the best treatment for red eyes is simply to take a break! Resting your eyes and avoiding activities that can strain them (like staring at a computer screen for too long) can help your eyes recover. 

Avoid irritants
If your red eyes are caused by exposure to irritants like smoke or dust, it’s important to avoid these substances as much as possible. This can help prevent further irritation and allow your eyes to heal. 

Remember, taking care of your eyes is important for your overall health and well-being. If you’re experiencing redness or other symptoms that are causing you concern, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule an eye exam. We can help determine the underlying cause of your red eyes and provide you with the best treatment options for your individual needs.