Why are my eyes red? Here are 4 Possible Reasons

Are your eyes red and watery? Do they feel itchy or gritty? You might be experiencing what we call “red eyes.” It is among the most common eye problems that affect the population and has various causes. Find out what could be the possible culprit for this condition. Read on.

What are Red Eyes?

As the name implies, red eyes refer to the common condition where the eyes turn red or bloodshot. Specifically, this happens when the tiny blood vessels on the eyes’ surface become swollen and visible, thereby making the white of the eye appear reddish.

What are the Symptoms of Red Eyes?

Aside from the visible reddish tint on the sclera, other symptoms of red eyes usually include the following:

  • Itchiness
  • Burning sensation
  • Gritty sensation
  • Blurry vision
  • Watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light 

Are Red Eyes Cause of Concern?

Generally, red eyes are not a cause of concern. The condition doesn’t often last that long, and people who experience it may simply seek relief using over-the-counter artificial tears at any drug store. However, there are also cases where red eyes may indicate more serious eye conditions that might require immediate medical attention. Hence, it’s essential to know the possible causes of red eyes, the risks involved, and the possible treatments to seek. 

What are the Common Causes of Red Eyes?

  • Dry eyes

Tears are necessary to keep our eyes healthy and lubricated. They help wash away debris and reduce the risk of eye infection. Moreover, they keep the eyes’ surface clear and smooth, thereby promoting better vision. If our eyes become tear-deficient, this leads to what we call dry eye syndrome.

When this happens, the eyes turn red, and the person may experience itchiness, an aching sensation in the eyes, and even blurry vision.

Often, mild dry eyes aren’t a cause of concern and may be treated using only over-the-counter artificial tear solutions that will help moisten the eyes and alleviate the symptoms. Blinking multiple times may also help since it stimulates tear production

Common causes of dry eyes include old age, eye fatigue, and even prolonged exposure to wind, smoke, or dry air. If you’ve ever spent hours in front of the computer or have been smoking, there’s a high chance that the reddish tint in your eyes is due to dry eyes.

  • Allergies

Eye allergies, or allergic conjunctivitis, are also often associated with red eyes. This condition happens when allergens, such as pollens, dust mites, or cigarette smoke, get into the eyes. In response, the body will release a chemical called histamine, which will boost blood flow and cause the tiny blood vessels in the eyes to swell. Naturally, your eyes will become red, watery, and may even feel itchy. Eventually, this will signal white blood cells and blood plasma proteins to migrate and fight off the infection in the affected site.

Common symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include tearing, swollen eyelids, itching, and even a burning sensation. When this happens, it’s best to avoid scratching your eyes. You may use artificial teardrops to alleviate the symptoms, but make sure that the liquid is free of preservatives. You may also apply a cool compress in the affected area. An eye doctor will also provide you with prescription eye drops and oral medications to treat your allergies.

  • Eye infection

Red eyes may also indicate an eye infection. This condition happens when bacteria, fungi, or viruses get into your eyes. Common symptoms include red and swollen eyes, itchiness, pain, and even eye discharge.

There are many types of eye infections. The most common include what we call conjunctivitis or pink eye, a type of infection that affects the conjunctiva, the thin membrane that coats the eyes’ surface. This is very contagious and affects mostly young kids. 

Another type is called keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea due to bacteria or viruses in the water. The improper way of wearing contact lenses or wearing them for too long without proper cleaning is identified to be among the common causes of this type of eye infection.

It’s important that you see a doctor anytime you suspect an eye infection. In some cases, the ophthalmologist may only prescribe an antibiotic. However, some conditions may also require emergency surgery.

  • Glaucoma

Glaucoma is one of the serious eye conditions that may cause red eyes. Specifically, this refers to a disease that damages the optic nerve due to high pressure in the eye. When left untreated or diagnosed late, glaucoma may lead to permanent and total blindness.

To date, there is no definite answer as to what causes glaucoma. However, scientists have identified many factors that may increase the risk of developing this condition. Among these include a family history of glaucoma, use of certain medications, and a past eye injury or trauma.

Early glaucoma often doesn’t have any symptoms until late in the disease. When this happens, persons experiencing the condition may experience eye pain, severe headaches, see halos around light, show redness in the eyes, and upset stomach. When these symptoms occur, see a doctor right away.

Visit Us Here!

Worried about the real cause of your red eyes? If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms discussed above, it’s best to consult a doctor as soon as possible. While red eyes are very common, the condition stems from different causes ranging from mere irritation to other serious eye problems. A consultation with an eye doctor will let you know the real culprit behind your bloodshot eyes.

Here at Arizona Retinal Specialists, our dedicated team of doctors prides themselves with years of professional service in diagnosing and managing eye disease. If you suspect any problem concerning your vision, contact us right away.

You may schedule an appointment through our website or reach us at 623 – 474 – 3937 (EYES).


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