Red eyes

Although they look unsightly and can leave you feeling self-conscious, red eyes are extremely common and can affect people of all ages. Affecting one or both eyes, red eye is caused by irritated or swollen vessels on the front structures of the eye. They can indicate a number of different health problems.

What is red eye? Symptoms

Red eye is a general term used to describe red, bloodshot and irritated eyes. Ranging in appearance, red eyes vary in severity from a bright red that completely covers the white part of the eye, to a few enlarged blood vessels that look like small veins. Red eye can range from pain-free, to extremely painful – depending on the cause.

Why are my eyes red? Causes of red eyes

Red eyes can be caused by many things, including allergies, fatigue, a burst blood vessel, exposure to dry air or the sun, excessive dust or infection, as well as some general health conditions, such as autoimmune diseases. Eye infections and colds can also cause eyes to become bloodshot. Red eyes normally clear up completely within a week or two.

If you find you are suffering from persistent red eye, pain, sensitivity to light or the symptoms don’t ease after a couple of days, it’s advisable to consult your eye care practitioner or GP for further advice.

Treating sore red eyes

Treating soreness associated with red eyes is often quite straightforward, which is good news if you regularly suffer from the irritation and discomfort they can cause.

  • Seek advice from a qualified professional to ascertain the reason for the soreness and redness.
  • Depending on the cause, eye drops can also help to ease the symptoms of sore red eyes and reduce irritation.
  • Symptoms caused by environment (dry air / regular VDU use) can often be eased with comfort eye drops or a modification of the environment.
  • If you use a computer most days, take regular breaks from staring at the screen, this may help with some symptoms.
  • If you do wear contact lenses and experience unusual red eye symptoms, these should be removed until you have sought advice from your eye care practitioner.

If your red eyes are due to a diagnosed other eye condition such as conjunctivitis, styes or blepharitis, specific treatment options are available.

If you are unsure or have concerns about your eyes, always seek advice from your regular optometrist.