My eye is red: What causes bloodshot eyes?

A bloodshot eye (or eyes!) can be anything from unsightly and uncomfortable, from having no symptoms at all, to being downright painful.


How to get rid of bloodshot eyes


To treat red eyes it really depends on what’s causing it. First things first, we need to get to the bottom of the reason your eye is bloodshot.


When you visit your optometrist, they’ll start by asking you a series of questions about what’s been going on:

  • How long have you had a red eye for?

  • Do you have a bloodshot eye on one side, or is it affecting both eyes?

  • Are there are any other symptoms such as pain, discharge or sensitivity to bright lights?


The answers to these questions can help guide your eye care professional into working out the problem.


After a detailed history and symptoms check, the next step would be for you optometrist to have a closer look at your eyes. They may need to check your vision too to make sure this isn't being affected by whatever’s going on.


To have a good look at the health of the eyes you’ll need to have a little drop of yellow dye put on to the front of the eye. This is called fluorescein (you never know, that might come in handy in a pub quiz one day).


Fluorescein doesn't sting and it doesn't affect your vision, but it does highlight the front of the eye so when a blue light is shone on it it can reveal any problems that might be making your peepers pink!



Red eyes: common causes and symptoms


These problems can include some of the following. This list is by no means an exhaustive one, but it covers some of the more common problems that can arise:


Subconjunctival haemorrhages


These are bleeds on the white bit of your eye. They’re painless, appear suddenly, and resolve on their own - it just needs time (a couple of weeks generally).


They’re of no cause for concern but they can look pretty dramatic, especially if they make the whole eye go red, so if you’ve never had one before they can be a bit disturbing!


Corneal ulcers, iritis or acute glaucoma


These are very serious eye conditions which need urgent treatment. They tend to affect just one eye, they cause pain and light sensitivity and can affect your vision.


Specialist treatment is required and the sooner it’s treated the better. Once the conditions have got better your eye will be white again. Your optician will be able to help diagnose and refer so the right treatment can be given as soon as possible.


Dry eye and Blepharitis


Dry eye and Blepharitis are very common conditions, which although can be uncomfortable are rarely serious and sight threatening.


They affect both eyes (to differing amounts sometimes) and symptoms can vary in severity.

They're chronic conditions, which means you have them for life (oh joy!) but with careful management they are very liveable with.


Depending on your particular symptoms and causes of these conditions your optician will be able to guide you on a management plan to suit you which might include hot compresses, lid cleansing and lubricating drops, and once you’ve got it under control your eyes should look much happier and less red.


How to treat red eyes


As you can see from just a few example eye conditions, there can be many reasons why your eyes are bloodshot. To understand why your eye is red there is a lot to consider.


It varies hugely on what’s causing your bloodshot eyes as to what advice you might receive to treat it.

As with any eye problem that’s causing you some bother, whether its down to appearance or comfort, your best bet is to make an appointment so you can receive the bespoke advice your eyes deserve!

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Always consult a qualified optometrist to confirm a diagnosis!

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